Fi Asia 2018 ended on 5 October with record number of visitors, and a greater number of exhibitors signifying the growing importance of the Indonesian food and beverage segment to this region.
Organiser UBM reported that this year's Fi Asia occupied 7 exhibition halls which translated to 40% more space compared to Fi Asia 2016, held also in Jakarta. This exhibition has successfully attracted 22,176 visitors from the food and beverage industry from 66 nations. This is 15% more than in 2016.
Two of Indonesia's leading ingredients suppliers, Indesso and PT Foodex had also recorded overwhelming turnout daily; many of its visitors bedazzled by the latest product innovations and applications offered by these 2 companies for the Indonesian market and overseas.
Indesso capitalising on the 5 senses to ignite consumer interests
Indesso showcased its wide range of products that give a pleasurable sensation of the 5 senses. Jessie Gunawan, Head of Marketing said, "This year, we invite existing and potential customers to experience products not only with delicious taste and aroma, but also with a wild sense exploration.We have products that glow in the dark, food with unique food texture and crunchy snack sound among others. We believe that we can offer solutions to customers who need a breakthrough food and beverage concept."
Indesso collaborates with its partners in promoting ingredients into various product applications. Its overall concept is divided into 3 categories namely active, indulgence and fun. One of its interesting 'indulgence' product application proposal is the sparkling and tasty black vitamin water which contains encapsulated extract of Indesso, the flavor of Firmenich, the natural color of Chr.Hansen, fiber gum of Nexira, stevia sweetener of PureCircle and enriched with vitamin. The concept was to introduce a healthier beverage than normal carbonated beverages without compromising on taste.
Another interesting product application is cheese french fries with colorful sauces that deliver all 5 senses with the crunchiness of the snack offered with pink, black and green sauce color.
When asked how successful was Fi Asia 2018 to Indesso, Mr Arianto Mulyadi, General Manager of Corporate Communications and New Business Development said, "We have been exhibiting 5 times in Fi Asia, and so far this is the largest visitor turnout."
Mr Arianto elaborated that the 5 senses showcased at Indesso's booth includes basic taste and aroma to texture, color and sight.
Indesso occupies a significant position in Indonesia's food ingredients segment. When asked what are the major trends that can be seen in the Indonesian market, Mr Arianto asserted that Indesso itself is the trendsetter with a wide pool of talent. He said, "In the next following years, if our black vitamin water found success in the domestic market, that signifies our success. A few years ago, we brought in a new citrus flavor from Japan, and we had adapted the flavours to meet Indonesian taste and preferences. Also 4 years ago, we launched a concept of instant noodles with real meat, and we are the first company that presented such concept in Indonesia."
Mr Arianto credited its strong global network of contacts for the innovative product ideas and applications. In addition, Indesso's large sales force has also developed strong 'intimate' bonds with its customers through direct sales contacts and workshops.
At present, Indonesia food segment is getting more fragmented with a growing number of smaller players, all attributed to the rapid digital (online) business development. These smaller players require premixes and cannot buy individual products.
Although Indesso has tremendous talent in new product developments, there are no plans to go into manufacturing finished (end) products. Arianto said, "We dont want to enter the business of our customers. We rather stick with our role as ingredient suppliers."
Indesso is now no longer just an Indonesian-based supplier. It has diversified geographically with the setting up of its Malaysian sales office in 2016, and it has already appointed distributors in Myanmar, Thailand, Philippines and Vietnam." Mr Arianto added, "Our vision is to be an ASEAN ingredients supplier as well as an exporter, to a smaller extent, to other markets like Japan and Africa."
Malaysia is a good 'overseas establishment’ start for Indesso as the country shares similar taste preferences as its Indonesian counterparts.
Indesso projects its sales turnover, which is currently a few trillion rupiah, to continuously growing. Indesso leads the world in Aroma Chemicals particularly for clove derivatives, a major raw materials sourced mainly from Indonesia. Its other category, Food Ingredients is rapidly growing with its own in-house brands that include Culinaroma, Sweetaroma, Cheezaroma and Indesso botanical extracts.
Mr Arianto concluded, "Specialty products need time to be accepted by consumers. When a food company launches a B2C (business-to-consumer) products, they invest substantially and bear the risks that the products might fail in the market. The food segment is dynamic, especially for 'savoury' products where taste and preferences keep changing."
Certainly, partnering with Indesso will offer food and beverage manufacturers in Indonesia higher chances of success owing to Indesso's credible reputation and knowledge of this huge market.
Foodex using past experiences to translate to future innovative products
Indonesian food ingredient giant, PT Foodex Inti Ingredients also witnessed growing number of visitors to its booth. Richard Kusuma, Sales Director of Foodex said, "We had tremendous success during Fi Asia 2018 as we welcome more visitors to our booth compared to 2 years ago. Our booth concept and locations also attracted new clients whom are new to Foodex."
Ms Hong Mee Hoa, Manufacturing Director from Foodex said that the company's seasonings for noodles seem to gather the most consumer interest. Some of the company's interesting innovations include Peking Duck fried noodle and Laksa.
Richard asserted that Foodex is indeed one of the most innovative seasonings house in Indonesia. "At Fi Asia, we continue to display and amuse our existing and new clients with our out-of the-box taste creations. Our visitors always expect something very very different from us in every exhibition.”
The atmosphere at Foodex booth was made even more fun and interesting as visitors had to play "guess the seasonings taste" while at the same time test their senses.
When asked for the reason for the overwhelming response to the noodles seasonings, Richard added, “For Peking Duck, this is a very popular menu worldwide, where our domestic and international visitors can recognise. Duck has become a favorite menu for restaurants in Indonesia; therefore, when visitors saw DUCK, for sure it will attract them. In their minds, they will be curious about the taste and how is this seasoning possible. Then, they will start comparing our seasonings with the real Peking duck.”
Richard claimed that the company served more than 2,000 servings of the peking duck noodle during the exhibition. “We also receive several immediate requests (orders), and we consider this seasoning to be a successful one.”
Another of its noodle seasoning, Laksa, is an innovative creation by Foodex R&D based from experience of one of its management staff earlier educational stint overseas in Penang. Foodex’ Laksa is a seasoning brought into reality and to remake that Laksa into a seasoning is certainly a challenge as Laksa, in its originality, is a skillful combination of rich and spicy curry coconut milk and sour assam. Richard said, “While serving our delicious Laksa, we always explained to our visitors that we can turn our imagination into creation that others can enjoy.”
Apart from seasonings, Foodex has also created dipping sauce for the Food Service and Snacks Industry. According to Richard, the dipping sauce goes well with fried chicken, nuggets and chips which are popular with Indonesians.
Other than standard savory products, Foodex has also launched an innovative out-of-the-box ‘spicy’ ice cream called ‘Asinan Ice Cream’. This interesting product was conceptualised by the R&D team. Richard elaborated, “Very often, our R&D team visit the fruit shop near Foodex and buy locally-grown exotic fruits. They will then cut the fruits and make their own asinan (rojak) paste. We always gather after meal, eat the asinan, tell stories and laughed together. With that positive experience, we decided to create an ice cream that is spicy, unique, fruity and give the ‘Wow’ effect.” Visitors that tried Foodex’ ‘unbelievably spicy but delicious’ Asinan ice cream left with a smile on their faces.
Based from visitor feedback, Ms Hong saw growing consumer trend in favour of healthier and natural products, for example, greater use of natural colors. Richard added, “We see the trend globally that food industries are going into natural products. We, as food ingredients supplier, often felt challenged to fulfill this growing customer demand. As a result, we started to invest on natural solutions since 2002 which focused on Meat Extract by using real meat products. We also select our suppliers who have the same vision toward using more natural products.” To sum up, Foodex goal as a major food ingredients company is to ‘provide great taste by using healthier and more natural products.’
Five years from now, Richard sees Foodex as a supplier focusing on serving the Indonesian food industries, supplying them with seasonings, flavor ingredients or natural solutions. Richard added, “We would also like to introduce international flavors from around the globe to Indonesian market. This is to give the chance to Indonesian consumers to enjoy and to experience other countries culture via food. At the same time, we would like to introduce Indonesian culinary to international market. With this plan, we can see Foodex setting up several taste solutions out of Indonesia. These companies will connect to each other, to create a good taste that are acceptable to the individual market.”
Ms Hong also said that there is a plan to increase exports to Turkey and countries in Africa and Asia, particularly Malaysia and China. Foodex strength lies mainly in its ‘seasonings’ which it can offer in both powder and liquid form.
Richard refused to disclose the sales figure for Foodex but he declared that Foodex always aims for double-digit growth every 2 to 3 years. “Five years from now, Foodex will evolve into a serious regional player in the seasonings segment.”
( Next Fi Asia 2019 will be held from 11 to 13 September 2019 in Bangkok, Thailand)