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Euromonitor International presented at Horti Asia 2015, held in Bangkok between 17 and 19 March 2015.The two key takeaways from the event were the increased acceptance of organic produce as well as the need for new, intelligent packaging of fresh produce.

Organic food is gaining ground in Asia Pacific

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Asia Pacific countries such as China and India have a higher absolute consumption of organic fruits and vegetables when compared to developed markets such as North America and Western European countries. This is mainly due to the much greater population size in the Asia Pacific region.  However, the consumption share of organic fruits and vegetables is still in single digits when compared to conventional fruits and vegetables in the region. This is in contrast to the Western markets, where organic food already commands a fair share of the market. Hence there exists huge scope for increasing the penetration of organic foods in Asia Pacific. Increasing awareness of the benefits of consuming organic food is on the rise and food safety is becoming a key concern for consumers in countries such as China, Japan, Thailand, Korea and India. Rising disposable incomes and stronger purchasing power has enabled these consumers to turn to organic foods. Growth of modern retail outlets such as supermarkets and hypermarkets would also help to increase the availability of organic food in the region.

A number of companies promoted their organic products at the Horti Asia 2015 expo. Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives of Thailand’s The Marketing Organization for Farmers (MOF) offered MOF-branded organic vegetables, organic fruits, high-quality organic jasmine rice and other organic grains. Thinakorn Organic Estate displayed its range of organic rice, pulses and other grains. Korea’s Odus Co Ltd promoted its Silica Series brands, which are natural silica-based products that are claimed to increase yield, prevent plant disease, strengthen plant health and be suitable for organic farming. 2MBIO Co Ltd displayed its natural plant growth regulator and functional fertilisers along with its botanical pesticides. Nousbo Co Ltd showcased its organic-based products such as Silica Tabs, NK Tabs for paddy rice, Organic Potash and Crop Meals.

Agri-Asia-2Organic fresh and packaged food products are expected to continue to be popular over coming years and fresh food manufacturers will be well placed if they are able to cater to this rising demand.

Intelligent packaging and labelling – the way forward

Packaging of fresh food is gaining importance in the region due to the perishable nature of these products. Lack of infrastructure, such as cold storage or road and rail links, within a number of Asia Pacific countries results in huge wastage of fresh food produce every year. Packaging of fresh food is increasingly being seen as a solution to this problem of wastage.

Flexible packaging is gaining ground as more players move towards this packaging type in the region. Flexible packaging in Asia Pacific is becoming popular in categories such as fresh vegetables, nuts, almonds, dried mixed berries, beans and potatoes. Flexible packaging offers numerous benefits to producers, such as: being easily customisable, ensuring product protection and freshness, helping to drive sales at the shelf through differentiation and meeting changing consumer demand for ease of use and portability.

Intelligent packaging has a role to play in the reduction of waste, in extending shelf life, reducing costs and giving a more reliable indication of the actual product condition. Hence intelligent packaging techniques such as biochemical active films, antimicrobial packaging, oxygen and CO2 gas-scavenging, moisture control, anti-oxidation, temperature-controlled packaging, active labels, sensors and tags, printed electronics and RFID technology are being promoted in the region to ensure minimum wastage of fresh produce.

Penetration of packaged fresh food is still in single digits in the region, with huge opportunities existing for increasing its share. While infrastructure development lies with the governments, intelligent packaging is one of the means to achieve lower wastage levels by increasing the life of food products.

Merchandising display will remain key to showcasing fresh produce

Merchandising display is gaining popularity in modern retail outlets in Asia Pacific. An eye-catching display can put a brand in the spotlight, capture the attention of busy shoppers and create opportunities to generate sales. Various display types, such as floor display, counter display, standee, giant mock-up and dump bin, are gaining popularity in terms of achieving visibility and getting products on shelves to sell quickly.

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