Asia’s food industry will drive sustainable global nutrition
By Danai Pathovanich
In the 21st century, Asia’s burgeoning food industry is poised to lead the world toward responsible nutrition as part of the region’s battle against obesity and related metabolic diseases. Good reasonably-priced nutritious food will help Asia mitigate its obesity rates that are now rising faster in Asia than elsewhere. A recent article published by the World Economic Forum quoted Kimbal Musk, a Schwab Foundation Social Entrepreneur of the year 2017 who said the only way out of this global crisis was a “real food” revolution. Fat and starving at the same time
Musk said that the world’s current industrial food system is designed to give us high-calorie, low nutrition food. “This food leaves us malnourished and obese – we are literally fat and starving at the same time.” Fast-food eating habits have resulted in horrendous health problems in much of the developed world, primarily in the United States. “55 per cent of the people are diabetic or pre-diabetic,” he said. Fast food purveyors have spun a lie The global fast food industry, Musk said has spun a tremendous lie when it preaches that a sign of progress is not having to cook for ourselves. They have taught us to eat in fast-food restaurants or buy highly processed dinners, he said. Prior to the internet age, fast food companies could do anything they wanted and we had to trust them because of the lack of information. “But now, with the digital revolution, we’re starting to realize that this trust was misplaced.” Another lie: healthy eating is difficult or expensive According to Musk, the idea that people can’t afford real food is another “lie” that has been perpetrated. “You can roast a chicken and vegetables to feed a family of four for $US10.”
At the same time, it would be a struggle to feed a family of four at MacDonald’s for the same price.
Asia must lead the way A recent Asia Pacific Food and Beverage Industry report published by Euromonitor International indicates that the Asia Pacific region food and beverage industry was expected to show year end 2016 revenues of $US3.23 trillion dollars that is equal to the rest of the world combined. Consequently, Asian food purveyors will be major leaders in producing nutritious food for the masses. Year end 2016 projected revenue growth in the Asia Pacific was expected to top 11 per cent per annum far outpacing Western Europe (two per cent) and North America (four per cent).
Key Asia food drivers: rice, oil and meat Grain mill products, oil and fat, meat and meat products were expected to constitute more than half of Asia’s 2016 food industry turnover.
These three categories expected double digit growth in 2016 and 2017. Grain mill products account for about 20 per cent of Asia’s food industry turnover largely because rice is a staple and an export product of most countries. Vegetable and animal oils and fats were expected to capture an estimated 14 per cent of industry revenues in 2016. Moreover, the Asia Pacific will continue to the largest global oil and fats consumer primarily because Asian tastes for fried foods is growing rapidly. Meat and meat products will continue growing in Asia because of rising consumer incomes. “Despite high variance in meat consumption among Asian countries, the region as a whole will post double-digit expansion in turnover and will rank as the largest producer in the world. Healthy drinks spur beverage growth Increasing Asian health awareness has also spurred development of functional beverages that contain vitamins, amino acids or raw fruit.“For Asians functional beverage are affordable, convenient and a trendy way to take nutritional supplements.”
Bottled water is also experiencing double-digit growth in Asia. Key expansion drivers include the perception that bottled water is a healthy alternative to carbonated soft drinks and tap water is a common substitute in heavily polluted Asian metropolitan areas.
South East Asia’ role – global food security and food-basket This decade, food security has been identified as a critical necessity and South East Asia is playing a critical role.
The region has made significant meaningful advances reducing chronic hunger and malnutrition and will continue being a food basket and one of the most productive agricultural areas in the world. Regional integration is projected to increase South East Asia’s exports by 15 per cent and create 4.5 million new agricultural jobs by 2025.