Path to wellness: Chinese demands for healthier products outstripping other Asia markets

By Nurul Ain Razali

- Last updated on GMT

Chinese consumers, such as those in urban Shanghai and Beijing, are demanding healthier food for better gut health and quality of life. ©Getty Images
Chinese consumers, such as those in urban Shanghai and Beijing, are demanding healthier food for better gut health and quality of life. ©Getty Images

Related tags China Tate & lyle Fructooligosaccharide galactooligosaccharides

Chinese consumers are leading regional demands for healthier, more nutritious food, such as low- to zero-sugar products and high fibre content, for benefits such as better gut health and quality of life.

According to the General Manager of Greater China at global F&B ingredients firm Tate & Lyle PLC (Tate & Lyle), Remington Zhu, the two significant demographics to focus on are those over 65 and the sporty younger generation.

“Consumer trends in China are highly diversified. The ageing population, those aged around 65 to 70 and above, care about longevity and quality of life, whereas the younger generation has a higher awareness of health and engages in various sports. These consumers demand more healthy and nutritional food, especially those residing in cities such as Shanghai and Beijing.

“When the world was down with COVID-19, China still managed to grow its GDP at 5%. Here, we observed a clear consumer trend of wanting health and nutrition than elsewhere in APAC. In China, 50% of consumers want such food, whereas other markets in APAC stand at 38%,”​ said Zhu.

Backed by 160 years of expertise in sweetening, mouthfeel and fortification across 30 countries, Tate & Lyle aims to develop ingredients that could reduce sugar, calorie and fat content while adding fibre, protein, texture and stability in food categories like beverages, dairy, bakery, soups, sauces and dressings.

Follow the flow

To fulfil these market demands, Tate & Lyle has acquired a leading prebiotic dietary fibre business in China, Quantum Hi-Tech in Guangdong, a subsidiary of ChemPartner Pharmatech (ChemPartner), at a total consideration of USD$237m recently.

Through the acquisition, Tate & Lyle firm could expand its fibre portfolio to include fructooligosaccharides (FOS) and galactooligosaccharides (GOS), which are soluble, prebiotic dietary fibres that could enhance gut health.

Quantum engages in the research, development, production and sale of FOS and GOS fructooligosaccharides (FOS) and galactooligosaccharides (GOS). FOS from sucrose and GOS from milk sugar or lactose represent 25% of the global dietary fibre market, which is forecast to grow around 6% per annum.

In China, which currently represents most of Quantum’s sales, the FOS and GOS market is forecast to grow at around 10% per annum. The products are manufactured in Guangdong province (southern China).

“Quantum is the number one player in China. Its product quality and technology are very good, unique and known not only in China but overseas. The purpose of this acquisition is for growth. The strategy for the hour is to focus and prioritise. Now, we are enhancing our fibre capabilities.

“With nutrition growing at double-digit rates, how can we grab all these opportunities? We understand consumers and customers. Hence, what innovations can we come up with? We don’t only sell products but solutions. We look at consumers as partners and understand their needs,”​ Zhu added.

Global Head of Quantum at Tate & Lyle, John Stewart, said that the Chinese firm was believed to be the first company in China to commercialise FOS.

Quantum’s reputation in FOS and GOS dietary fibres stems from the expertise of scientists who developed a proprietary enzymatic process to optimise production and ingredient functionality. Based on its expertise, the acquisition is expected to be accretive to revenue growth and EBITDA margin for Tate & Lyle in the first year of ownership.

“In acquiring Quantum, we welcome its experienced management team, with over 20 years’ experience in prebiotics, along with a portfolio of liquid and powder product variants, strong R&D capability and superior manufacturing assets,”​ said Stewart.

Probiotics, healthy ageing and protein are major focus areas of our upcoming Growth Asia Summit in Singapore from 11 to 13 October. Check out big-name brands, international experts and pioneering start-ups slated to present here.

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