Trends: Health Foods

Understanding the growing Health Foods market and how to maximise what it has to offer 

Market Trends & Opportunities

Published in 23 September 2014

Food safety concerns. There have been increasing concerns about food safety issues globally as food scare incidents continue to be reported. For instance, in 2012 horse meat was found in a meatball sold by Swedish furniture player, IKEA. It was also revealed then that Nongshim Instant Noodles contained cancer-causing substances in their soup powder. Such incidents increases food safety concerns and fuels the shift towards premium products which are safe for consumption.
Change of population demographics. Singapore faces a growing ageing population, educated population and rising middle-class. The Singapore population comprises of educated and well-informed individuals that have access to global news and lifestyles. They are discerning in their choices and seek the best deals with good value. They are willing to trade up for premium products when perceived as beneficial to them. This can be attributed to the increased sophistication of the population and shift in taste. 
Faced paced and stressful lifestyles. With increasingly demanding and stressful working culture, the working middle-class which desire and can afford quality products are less hesitant to ‘treat’ or ‘reward’ themselves to premium options of foods which can provide them with a convenient way to look after their health and body image. 
Healthier Choice Symbol. The symbol was introduced by the government in 2009 to encourage having healthier diets and to be able to make more informed decisions. As a result, people will have an extensive range of healthier variants such as reduced fat, sugar and sodium products. More importantly, it was reported that 70% of consumers use this logo to assist them in making healthier food choices.
Increased expenditure on children’s nutrition. In recent years, due to recurring low birth rates where local residents prefer to conceive only after attaining certain markers of adulthood, such as a stable career and home ownership, an increasing number of parents are capable and insistent on purchasing products of top quality. There is little expense spared on foods such as food intolerance products, and there is an increasing demand for organic, low-calorie and reduced sugar packaged food and beverage.
Blurry line between Naturally Healthy foods and organic foods. As manufacturers of organic foods have yet to successfully entrench the benefits of organic options in consumer minds, consumers do not see a clear distinction between the benefits of NH Foods and organic foods and perceive the benefits to be on par. NH Foods continues to outstrip sales of organic food due to the high pricing of organic foods.
Rising number of premium supermarkets in suburbs. More luxury malls are set to open in light of the Government's decentralisation strategy to transform suburbs into regional centre. This welcomes premium retailers to set up outlets to better access suburban Singapore consumers and vice versa who are “just as wealthy and sophisticated as those living in the city centre”.

Maximize the potential

Leverage on the market information available. Identify where you fit in. Is your health product able to meet the consumers’ desires? You might like to contact us to find out more.  
Leverage on Singapore’s IT Savviness. Apart from traditional media channels of information transfer, Singapore’s population is largely informed through social media. Internet Penetration in Singapore is significantly above the global average at 73% (from Social Media Penetration is also significantly above the global average at 59%. A fun fact - Internet users in Singapore view social network sites 3.1B times every month!
Leverage on Singapore’s increasingly sophisticated growing middle class.  The growing middle class are educated and IT Savvy. They are well-informed, capable and willing to purchase premium products so long as they are able to provide substantial benefits. Younger consumers (below 40) tend to follow trends and pick up information through social media reviews as well as word-of-mouth recommendations. By effectively engaging consumers through social media, you will be able to tap into the market through cost effective means. 
Leverage on Singapore’s International Agreements. 20 Regional & Bilateral Free Trade Agreements/Economic Partnership Agreements (FTAs/EPAs), 74 Double Taxation Agreements (DTA) and 41 Investment Guarantee Agreements (IGAs). With FTAs, Singapore-based exporters and investors stand to enjoy a myriad of benefits like tariff concessions, preferential access to certain sectors, faster entry into markets and Intellectual Property (IP) protection.
Leverage on Singapore’s world class logistics hub. Systems are secure and reliable. Moreover, Singapore has many world class facilities and experts in the market who will be able to provide you with top advisory services. Singapore has a Zero GST Warehouses which are highly beneficial when importing/exporting into and from Singapore. Singapore has a spectrum of professional services available to allow for easy outsourcing of work.
Leverage on Singapore’s multiracial and multinational society which is ideal for conducting market research and testing the APAC market Companies such as Unilever & P&G use Singapore as a base to access a wide range of nationalities and race types for their market research at one go. Singapore is reputed as product and services test-bed prior to launching products in the rest of Asia.  Singapore is positioned as a link between the West and Asia. 
Leverage on Singapore’s reliable distributors which have access to the APAC Market. Many distributors have experience working with international companies and a wealth of knowledge of import/export laws and logistical issues.
Leverage on Singapore’s Campaigns to promote healthy living. Singapore’s Health Promotion Board has actively been championing healthy lifestyle and diet. They have a slew of initiatives (including the Healthier Choice Symbol) and campaigns to raise awareness of healthy eating throughout the nation. This healthier food strategy is one of the key initiatives under the Healthy Living Master Plan, announced in April 2014. To achieve this, a host of partners including restaurant chains, food courts, caterers and ingredient suppliers, have all come on board to make healthier eating easy, affordable and more rewarding for everyone.
References: Singapore HPB Website, We are Social & Euromonitor Passport
Andrew Vine
Measurement is key: we have at least managed to get full disclosure on almost all foods we buy in supermarkets i.e. labeling what we are getting (calories, % fat, salt, additives, colorings etc) but restaurants must be the next frontier. Ok, we can indicate the healthier choices, but how healthy? I track my food intake on LiveStrong's "MyPlate", but restaurants really don't help much. If restaurants are thinking holistically about how they create their menus, beyond making the dishes tasty and beautifyl, surely they can at least calculate the calories per dish (a small number they then put on the menu) if not other things like salt, fat, etc ... I said this to someone the other day and they replied that when they went out, the last thing they would want to spoil their evening was to know how many calories they were shoving down their throats when all they wanted to do was have a good time. .Hmmm .. I know, fair point, but more and more people might wish to request the "calorie counting" version of the same menu upon request? What a breakthrough that would be if all restaurants where mandated to declare what they are really putting on our plates? Andrew Vine