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Omya, a leading global producer of industrial minerals and a worldwide distributor of specialty chemicals, announced the acquisition of Prima Inter-Chem Sdn Bhd, a diversified distributor of Ingredients and Specialty Chemicals in Malaysia and Indonesia.

Omya has acquired the distributor Prima Inter-Chem in Malaysia and Indonesia. With this move, Omya boosts and develops its ingredient and specialty chemicals distribution capability in these countries for the food, pharmaceutical, animal feed and industrial markets. In addition it establishes a platform for growth for the wider region.

SIG’s second state-of-the-art production plant for aseptic carton packaging in China is now up and running. Despite challenges posed by the pandemic, the large-scale project has been successfully implemented, once again demonstrating SIG’s ongoing commitment to engineering excellence and sustainability leadership.

The new plant is located close to SIG’s existing production facility at the Suzhou Industrial Park (SIP), which allows for shared resources in both production and operations. The new facility is also close to SIG’s Asia Pacific Tech Center, with industry-leading innovation capabilities that bring a flow of new concepts and solutions to SIG customers. Having the Tech Centre nearby ensures SIG can keep pace with, and anticipate, new trends.

Samuel Sigrist, CEO of SIG: “The Asia Pacific region continues to be one of the major growth engines for aseptic carton packaging. The expansion of our production network will enable us to further strengthen our position in the growing Chinese market. It also means we can respond more quickly to the needs of our customers to provide holistic solutions to the food and beverage industry.”

By building a second production plant in China, SIG is committed to serving the Chinese market by providing high-quality products and services to customers across the Asia Pacific region. The entire production process in the new plant is managed intelligently, which significantly improves operational and production efficiency. The smart manufacturing system covers extrusion, printing, creasing, cutting and sealing.

Samuel Sigrist continues: “SIG has built up a strong customer base across the Asia Pacific region, providing outstanding innovation capability and end-to-end solutions for differentiated products, smarter factories and connected packs. Our close partnership with the two largest Chinese dairies, and other food and beverage companies, will continue to grow and develop.”

By 2024, the new plant will cover an area of 120,000 square metres and is expected to have an annual production capacity of 8 billion carton packs. It has been designed and built to have the lowest possible carbon emissions, with an artistic combination of classical Chinese garden and modern elements. Photovoltaic panels on the roofs can provide 1.5 million kWh of solar energy and collected rainwater is also reused after treatment to save around 28,000 tonnes of tap water per annum. In addition to energy-saving lighting devices, special lighting systems are installed to significantly reduce electricity consumption.

The new plant’s best-in-class environmental, safety and operation performance has already been recognised with a prestigious international industry certification: LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) gold certification for building design and construction. LEED is a green building certification programme created by the U.S. Green Building Council which is used worldwide. SIG’s new packaging plant was the first plant in China’s aseptic packaging industry to be built in strict accordance with the LEED gold certification standard.

Please watch how SIG is expanding its presence in Asia Pacific.

The fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) sector has undergone a significant transformation over the past decade and it continues to evolve.

Sumit Chopra, Consumer Research Director at GlobalData, a leading data and analytics company, highlights top five innovation trends that are going to impact the production, marketing and sales of consumer goods in Asia-Pacific (APAC) in 2019.

Fat gets thumbs up

“The consumer sentiment towards fats is evolving. Perceptions such as ‘Not all fat is bad’ and ‘fat is prosperity’ have started picking up in recent years. In an era of personalized nutrition, interest in specialty diet trends such as Keto, Paleo or Whole30 will continue to grow as consumers are questioning the role of sugar weight management, thus, adding more protein and fats to their diets. As specialty diets which rely more on fats move into mainstream, food and beverage makers are capitalizing on the opportunity to deliver low-carb and high-fat products. Buoyed by the unexpected success of high-fat, moderate protein and low-carb keto diet, companies such as US-based Just Inc are exploring Asia’s market to launch their products.

‘Better-for-you’ alcoholic beverages

“Consumers are gravitating towards lighter, less caloric, flavored alcoholic drinks, creating opportunities for manufacturers. Liquor manufacturers are paying close attention to nutrients, calorie counts and healthful ingredients while incorporating ‘better for you’ ingredients such as fruit juice, water and tea. The ‘better-for-you’ alcohol trend is graduating from niche status to a broader market sufficient in size and scope to interest alcohol manufacturers at the global level. Manufacturers in APAC are already keeping a close eye on this space. The Cannabis Co launched The Myrcene Hemp Gin, claimed to be the world’s first cannabis-infused gin that has value as a ‘dietary health and wellness supplement’ in Australia. In the first phase of ‘better-for-you’ alcoholic beverage revolution, we will see alcohol companies find even more ingenious ways to reach out to health-oriented consumers and more product launches in the flavored alcohol category are expected this year.”

360-degree wellness

“According to GlobalData’s 2018 Q3 Consumer Survey, 64 % of consumers in APAC are always or often influenced by how a product impacts their health & wellbeing while making their food choices. Against this back drop, FMCG companies will map out the wellness considerations for the products they offer and position them positive to consumers of all ages to leverage on growing consumer interest in healthy eating, local flavors, and personalization. In the wake of the health & wellness trend, Nestle forayed into the breakfast cereal category with Nesplus to offer healthy breakfast options to Indian consumers. In the non-alcoholic beverage category, Kombucha, turmeric latte or kefir will remain very much on-trend to attract interest from major soft drink manufacturers.

Changing regulatory landscape

“FMCG companies need to be ready for the likelihood of increased regulation of specific products, markets and packaging as governments across the world are exercising more power, particularly around issues such as obesity, consumer welfare and plastic pollution. The Indian government is exploring frameworks to ensure GST rate cut benefits to reach consumers along with proposing new packaged food labeling rules while food and beverage manufacturers in China are required to use a new set of quality and safety standards and have a food production license for all food categories.

Halo effect of plants

“Plant-based ingredients are seen as safer, more natural and better for the environment than ingredients from other sources. As a result, FMCG companies in Asia are beginning to add plant-based ingredients to their products, rebranding them as sustainable and environmentally friendly. Unilever’s move to launch vegan ice-cream in New Zealand under its Magnum brand is an example of major companies getting creative with iconic food ingredients in the region. We will be seeing more launches similar to PepsiCo India’s new packaging format made from 100 % compostable plant-based material for Lay’s and Kurkure snacks products. FMCG non-food makers are also turning to plant-based ingredients.”

As manufacturers in Asia-Pacific (APAC) are embarking on a growing trend of adding liquid nitrogen to beverages to create a unique consumption experience for consumers, especially millennials, who are open to experimenting with new and innovative offerings.

Shagun Sachdeva, Consumer Insights Analyst at GlobalData, a leading data and analytics company, offers her views on the potential opportunities in the nitrogen infused food and beverages (F&B) sector:

“Curiosity has emerged as the key driver of appetite for nitrogen-infused beverages, further fed by higher exposure to social media in APAC. Millennials, who are tech-savvy and experimental, appreciate products which deliver an element of surprise. This willingness and desire to experiment creates opportunities for brands to ‘premiumize’ by offering unusual and innovative products, which consumers are often ready to pay a premium price for.

“The use of liquid nitrogen in beverages has not only augmented the ability of beverage-makers to amaze and inspire consumers but also opened up revenue generating possibilities for foodservice outlets such as coffee shops and cafes. Coffee brewers are replacing dairy ingredients with nitrogen gas as it mimics the mouth feel that dairy ingredients can provide. Whereas, in ready-to-drink coffee category, nitrogen gas offers creamy taste without adding calories or animal-based ingredients, making products appropriate for consumers pursuing a vegan diet.

“For instance, companies such as Imbibe are using nitrogen to elevate the flavor profile of its beverages like tea, coffee and beers as consumers are getting intrigued by the velvety and luxurious texture that nitrogen infusions provide in beverages. In May 2018, the company collaborated with Ball Corporation to use its Widget Inside can technology in developing innovative nitrogen-infused beverages. In June 2018, Starbucks Thailand unveiled its first Asian four-tap draft nitro coffee system, which delivers Starbucks Cold Brew and nitrogen-infused Starbucks Cold Brew, tea and milk.

“Manufacturers are executing distribution and partnership agreements with local companies in APAC to address market demand for nitrogen-infused beverages in the region. However, nitrogenation is an expensive process and liquid nitrogen is a tricky ingredient to work with as unlike most food ingredients, it poses significant health risks if not handled with care and consumed carefully. In addition, the regulatory language of using liquid nitrogen in F&B sector is ambiguous and liquid nitrogen has run into issues in the beverage market in the past. Therefore, it is imperative for the makers of beverages infused with liquid nitrogen to find ways to prevent such outcomes with products that are safe and sustainable.”

The future of Asia-Pacific’s retail landscape will force a fundamental change in the way Asian companies are structured, managed and do business. The region is innovating in a new direction towards a future that suits its own aspirations and needs—and retail technology is leading that innovation. Asia-Pacific is also changing the framework and focus of globalisation, and that role will only increase.

In Mintel’s new whitepaper, ‘New Retail: The Futurenomics of Asia-Pacific’, Matthew Crabbe, Regional Trends Director, Asia-Pacific, combines Mintel’s latest research to paint a picture of what the future will look like for the economy, based on existing trends and trajectories in ‘new retail’, and its influences already being felt across the region.

‘New Retail: The Futurenomics of Asia-Pacific’ is broken down into four key discussion points, summarised below by Matthew Crabbe, Regional Trends Director, Asia-Pacific:

Digitisation: Futurenomics nears critical mass

“E-commerce growth is fast-moving and on a massive scale. According to Mintel estimates, e-commerce spending across Asia-Pacific* will increase from 3.6 % of total retail spending in 2010 to 31.4 % by 2020. What’s more, from 2015 to 2025, e-commerce will rise in value by over 290 %, and reach well over 37 % of total retail value across Asia-Pacific*. This growth has created a new critical mass with the convergence of online and offline retail and services into ‘new retail’.

“The online economy is a crucial part of Asia-Pacific’s current and future economic growth. It is also a major part of the continuing integration of the economies and consumer spending patterns across the region. Meanwhile, Asia is not just innovating within ‘new retail’, it is also a hothouse of innovation in artificial intelligence, application of augmented and virtual reality, revolutionary concepts in food production, among many others. And ‘new retail’ is the focus of how all these developments are agglomerating to shape the ‘futurenomics’ of Asia.”

Integration: The value of experience

“‘New retail’ is a process, rather than a market, where the ‘space’ of e-commerce increasingly integrates with physical shopping spaces. It is also a part of a wider integration process into the broader digital consumer services environment, and across all consumer product sectors. Places and processes for shopping are integrating with entertainment, travel and socialising—which is great as a third (32 %) of urban Thai consumers say they are spending more on leisure and entertainment in 2018.

“Brands are finding that they are being drawn into their own integration across sectors. Services brands are merging with retailers; retailers are becoming hoteliers; online platforms are becoming transportation provides—everything is mixing up. This means that brands must now engage with consumers across formats, platforms, technologies, locations, nations and sectors, and find relevance across more aspects of consumer lifestyles.”

Consolidation: More people in less space

“Asia-Pacific’s population is rapidly urbanising into some of the world’s largest cities, creating the potential for ‘new retail’ to develop faster in the region. In India, a quarter (25 %) of urban internet users who shop for groceries do so from online supermarkets at least once a month. Meanwhile, in Indonesia, over half (56 %) of urban smartphone owners have made a purchase through an online retail site or app.

“Urbanisation is likely to be significantly influenced in the future. To meet the needs of vast, crammed populations of tomorrow, cities will have to adapt to new technology. ‘New retail’, with the ability to reach anyone, anywhere, via their smartphones, offers a unique solution to connecting with consumers. Companies in the ‘new retail’ industry are encouraged to spread their influence across the region. In fact, ‘new retail’ is already expanding rapidly across the region through the influence of China’s leading operators.”

Migration: From brawn to ‘e-brain’

“As Asia-Pacific’s populations get older, there will be an increasing need for greater productivity as ‘working age’ populations shrink. This will drive the need for ongoing education and long-life learning to keep up with and adapt to new technologies. Mintel research reveals that as many as three in four (72 %) urban Thai consumers say they want to learn a new skill, while three in five (59 %) urban Chinese mums agree that early education should start as early as possible.

“Technology in production—manufacturing and agriculture, for instance—is leading to a shift from a ‘brawn economy’ to ‘brain economy’. Already new technology has democratised the means of production. In an environment where ideas become currency, we see the emergence of what is now known as the ‘Fifth Estate’. It is where outlier, disruptor and social groupings become instigators of change in mainstream society. ‘New retail’ will be the foundation upon which new economies will be built, and Asia-Pacific is leading the first wave.” Concluded Crabbe.

*Asia-Pacific estimates are based on the following markets: Australia, China, India, Indonesia, Japan, South Korea and Vietnam