Six Mega Trends driving nutritional and dietary changes in Asia

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Chandigarh June7 : Cargill along with Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) released a report titled ‘Food for Thought’, as part of a five-part research series. This report highlights two sides of Asia’s nutritional arc through examining dietary changes across the region and summarizing it in six megatrends –Quality not Quantity, Urbanisation and Income, Obesity & Micro Nutrients, Diverging Outcomes, Low Nutrional Awareness and Advertising and Social Media, that are driving these trends.

Quality not Quantity:  The need to switch from ‘more’ food to ‘better’ food will be the tenet for the coming years. Increase in the per capita income and calorie intake graph shows a significant growth in the quantity of food consumed, with most countries consuming more than 2,500 calories per capita daily. As a result, growth in calorie intake is moderating, composition of diets is changing quickly with a growing consumption of protein, especially meat and fish. Asia’s packaged food sector has experienced 4% growth in 2017, highlighting the increase in consumption of processed food as it is more convenient for the consumers and does not bereave nutritional requirement.

Obesity and Micronutrients – Increase in energy density and lower quality of diets: Urbanisation has a direct correlation with obesity. Diets deteriorate during migration to cities, thereby, confirming that nutritional changes occur as people move to urban areas. People in less-developed countries with lower Gross National Income (GNI) per capita are more vulnerable to the negative health consequences of urbanisation. This puts India in a tough spot as despite being the 6th largest economy, it still has a lower GNI per capita as compared to other countries in Asia.

Diverging Nutritional Outcomes – Unequal nutritional outcomes stems from Asia’s growing inequality: Despite significant GDP growth across the region, undernutrition is still a key concern in Asia, even as obesity growsIndia is the most egregious example of a fast-growing economy with highly unequal nutritional outcome. Structural gender inequality also shapes divergent nutritional outcomes –

Low Nutritional Awareness – Awareness about both undernutrition and over-nutrition, varies greatly by country and income level and is especially low in the region. There is a need for greater consumer education across the boardAwareness is especially important among mothers as mothers are the first source of nutrition for a child for “first thousand days” of life. Adults also need to be better educated about the dangers of obesogenic foods and importance of physical exercise.

Social Media & Advertising shaping food trends: The intensity of food advertising in Asia is growing however regulators are increasingly stepping in. Governments including Taiwan, Singapore and South Korea have stepped in to restrict and restrain some types of advertising. By country, Singapore and the Philippines have seen the largest increases in GDA labelling adoption since 2012, with Malaysia and Thailand in the top four for total adoption rates.

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