Thai health-food exporters urged to tap soaring demand during pandemic
The Commerce Ministry’s Trade Policy and Strategy Office (TPSO) has urged Thai businesses to take advantage of the soaring global demand for health food, supplements and vitamins during the Covid-19 crisis.
Thailand exported over 794 million baht in vitamins and supplements last year alone.
The TPSO said consumers were focusing more and more on health products as a way of boosting their immune systems. This trend offered opportunities for Thai food companies to leverage the strengths of Thai medicinal herbs and supplements to expand to international markets where demand was high, it added.
European consumers are leaning towards vegan and low-lactose products, while the trend in North America was for GMO-free food, said TPSO chief Phusit Ratanakul Sereroengrit, citing consumer data from research firm Mintel. Meanwhile, consumers in Asia favour natural products free from additives, according to the data.
Twenty-seven per cent of consumers in the US, one of Thailand’s largest food-export markets, would pay more for whole-foods while 35 per cent want to know the origin of the product.
The data also offers the following five trends in supplements and vitamins that consumers around the world are paying attention to.
1. Holistic health: More than 70 per cent of global consumers take nutritional supplements or vitamins, focusing on natural herbal extracts to maintain digestive and skin health, and prevent allergies and oral disease.
2. New and emerging health concerns: 35 per cent of American consumers buy nutritional supplements and alternative beverages to boost their immune systems, compared to 47 per cent of Thai consumers.
3. Align with food and drink: Plant-based and protein-based dietary supplements and alternative proteins are increasingly popular. Twenty-four per cent of Australians are concerned with making environmentally-friendly food choices, while 45 per cent of European consumers believe that a plant-base diet is beneficial for their body, and 34 per cent and 35 per cent of Polish and French consumers, respectively, prefer plant-based beverages such as soy milk and yoghurt.
4. Beauty benefits: Hyaluronic acid has gained great popularity over the past five years for its anti-aging and moisturising properties. 51 per cent of Thai consumers are interested in food and beverages that improve their skin. Chinese consumers pay attention to products that contain nutritional supplements and vitamins in fruit juices, and Chinese manufacturers have begun to introduce hyaluronic acid into jelly and beverage formulas.
5. Clear and transparent labelling: Manufacturers need to focus on clear labelling indicating plant-based ingredients, organic products, GMO-free, allergy-free, or no preservatives, etc.
In 2020, Thai exported about 1,617 tonnes of supplements and vitamins worth a total 794.27 million baht. Vietnam and Myanmar accounted for half of all Thai supplement and vitamin exports.