Food Ingredients Asia 2022 / Fi Asia 2022

Thailand ‘the supplement market’ in SEA: Morinaga on new ingredient launch in the region

By Tingmin Koe

- Last updated on GMT

The flag of Thailand. ©Getty Images
The flag of Thailand. ©Getty Images

Related tags Morinaga Thailand Blood pressure Halal certification

Thailand is “the supplement market” when it comes to introducing new functional ingredienst into the South East Asia region and beyond, says major Japanese dairy and functional ingredients manufacturer Morinaga Milk.

The company pointed out the above during an interview with NutraIngredients-Asia ​at the Food Ingredients Asia (FI Asia) tradeshow held in Bangkok during October 5 to 7.

It was also during this period that the firm’s functional tri-peptide ingredient trademarked MKP had being granted import permit as a food ingredient from the Thai authorities. 

Derived from casein via the firm’s patented enzymatic process, MKP consists of three amino acids methionine (M), lysine (K), and proline (P) and is said to help regulate blood pressure.

First launched in Japan in 2018, Thailand is the first country outside of Japan where the ingredient is introduced.

Asked the reason for choosing Thailand as the first overseas market, Jason Foo, senior vice president at Morinaga Nutritional Foods (Asia Pacific) pointed out that Thailand played a crucial role in South East Asia’s health supplement sector.

“Thailand is always the supplement market in SEA and has a sizeable market size, so it is the best platform to launch the ingredient, not only for the Thai market, but also for the SEA market.

“It is also a market that appreciates health supplements for blood pressure, more than any SEA markets, other than Singapore,”​ Foo said, adding that Thailand was experiencing a greying population, alongside Singapore and Malaysia in the SEA region. 

Elsewhere in Vietnam, he said that there was a greater demand for supplements for energy while the market size for blood pressure related supplements was smaller as compared to other categories in Malaysia.

“If you look at Malaysia, the appreciation or demand for blood pressure supplements is there. However, it is still very little as compared to the entire market size.

“For Indonesia, it is hard to obtain approval from BPOM (Indonesia’s FDA), so most Indonesians who are buying premium supplements are not buying from Indonesia itself, but elsewhere, such as Singapore and Malaysia.”

At the moment, MKP is used incorporated in finished consumer products under the Morinaga brand and other Japanese consumer brands such as Lion Corp.

Halal certification 

Another reason for choosing Thailand as a launchpad, is because of its sizeable health supplements export business, especially to the Middle East.

To satisfy the Mid-east markets’ need for halal certification, the firm had applied and obtained halal certification for the ingredient last year.

“Five years ago, if you were to ask the finished product customers if halal is vital, they will say no, but today, they will say that it is good to have halal certification.

“I personally think it is now a must have. This is because if you do not have halal-certification, you would not be able to achieve the economy of scale. 

“And there’s a lot of exports coming out from Thailand, especially to the Middle East,” ​Foo said.   

Dosage formats

The ingredient could be incorporated into both functional foods and health supplements.

Produced in New Zealand, the powdered ingredient could be made into capsules, sachets, RTD beverages, adult nutritional formula, and yogurt.

Scientific studies

The ingredient has been clinically tested. One of the studies was a four-week RCT where the ingredient has been shown to be safe for consumption.

The RCT involved 30 subjects who were randomized to take either 1,000 μg of MKP or dextrin powder containing no detectable MKP.

By the end of the trial, diastolic BP (DBP), was significantly lower in the intervention group than the placebo group.

Other parameters, such as BMI, body weight, and systolic blood pressure (SBP) did not significantly differ between the two groups.

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