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Future trajectory of fermented beverages in Asia

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Uber-nutritious brews and concoctions are in vogue, thanks to shifting consumer preferences and taste buds.

The practice of fermentation is a process that predates recorded human history. Fermentation is often popularised as a way to enrich proteins, probiotics and vital nutrients in food and drink. While fermentation is an age-old practice globally, we take a look at some of the recent developments in fermented beverages in key markets such as China, India and the Philippines.

Distilling holistic health into a cup

One of the most prevalent drivers into the rising star of fermented beverages is the growing need to build on one’s holistic health. Consumers in China and India associate fermented drinks as a means to detox naturally, while consumers in the Philippines and the aforementioned countries often link it to promote good gut health and as an abundant source of probiotics.

Live active cultures and good bacteria from probiotic drinks like kombucha, fruit enzymes, and yoghurt drinks are just some of the popular examples of fermented beverages widely believed to strengthen the immune system and beneficial for overall health.

Consumers are increasingly aware of the benefits of these cultured drinks as we have seen gut health as an emerging trend in China demonstrating a 12% growth year-on-year, as well as a growing trend in the Philippines with a 55.1% growth in the same period.

Tantalising the local taste buds

Innovations in the food and beverage industry are often the product of the environment and ever changing consumer tastes. The appeal of certain flavour profiles are subjective and can vary in different markets. Our AI-powered Foresight Engine has shown that in China, Fruit Enzyme drinks are considerably trendy in recent years, as it sees a 86.7% year-on-year growth.

In contrast, the growth of Kombucha continues to rise in India, as the country is perceptive to the benefits of the effervescent fermented tea. The development of Kombucha is also enhanced by the nation’s love of piquant flavours as Chilli is often paired with tropical fruits in the beverage.

Meanwhile, consumers in the Philippines gravitate towards the fermented milk drink, kefir. Comparable to a drinking yoghurt, kefir saw a 798.3% increase year-on-year. The common thread behind these findings is the fact that consumers are more likely to buy into a new product with a sense of familiarity.

A delicious journey to good health

Fermented drinks are enjoying a good reputation today, as consumers see these beverages as potential alternatives to unhealthy soft drinks. Naturally fizzy fermented drinks like Kombucha, Kvass and Water Kefir are gaining popularity with consumers citing the need for nutritious, natural, and tasty drinks to complement their healthy lifestyles.

While the global soft drink market is not in any danger of extinction, these healthy carbonated fermented drinks could be a key product to shift consumer interests. While health-conscious consumers are already in tune with such functional beverages, capturing the attention of the general population with fun and unique flavour pairings could be a great gateway for consumers to consume healthier options.

Fermented beverages are here to stay

Opportunities are plenty for food and beverage companies to build on their existing catalogue to deliver exciting healthy drinks for the masses. Not only should companies target the health-conscious, but the general public have shown significant interest in these products, especially when it is driven by a global health crisis. Increasing consumer concerns on health and their focus on healthy foods have motivated more people to look into fermented beverages as a tool for prevention, rather than cure.

The global probiotics market is expected to rise in the coming years, with probiotic drinks paving the way for future innovations to unfold. Ultimately, discerning consumers have expressed growing interest in the health benefits of their daily consumption. The correlation between probiotics, gut health, strong digestion and their overall health is a major contributor towards the consumption of fermented beverages.

Consumers are increasingly astute on what they put into their body, so they are more likely to advocate for a product that ticks all the boxes in their dietary needs while maintaining the importance of flavour and the enjoyment factor.

Ai Palette helps the FMCG companies with their product innovation. We use Artificial Intelligence & Machine Learning to help FMCG companies create consumer winning products. This article is based of Fermented Beverages Report. Somshubhra Ganchoudhuri is co-founder and CEO at Ai Palette.

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