GLOBAL August 2020
 
Kerry Trendspotter, its versatility and application at this time of crisis
 
AFBR gets the opportunity to interview Avinash Lal, Market Research and Consumer Insights Director of Kerry Asia Pacific, Middle East and Africa (APMEA) to get more specific responses on how Kerry Trendspotter could benefit the local F&B players in the ASEAN region, particularly during the current challenging pandemic period.
The following are excerpts from the interview with him:

How does Trendspotter benefit F&B players in the ASEAN region specifically ?
Trendspotter is an AI tool powered by IBM Watson that analyses millions of data points. It tracks food and beverage influencers and bloggers to identify what people are talking about in this space and picks up trending ingredients and flavours across markets. These flavours and ingredients are not mainstream yet but have the potential of becoming popular in the coming months.
In this way, Trendspotter lets F&B manufacturers in ASEAN be the first to spot the next big thing in food and beverage trends instead of jumping on the bandwagon of what’s trending, allowing manufacturers to innovate and offer consumers first-to-market differentiated, relevant products.
Additionally, the AI platform, based on multiple parameters, assigns an index score to each flavour ingredient. Based on the score and data distribution, you can plan your innovation pipeline over 36 months. Basically, it doesn’t just identify flavours and ingredients that will be popular in the next 6-9 months but even within a 24-month time frame or longer.

What are the emerging trends identified by Kerry Trendspotter particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic period? Any major changes in consumption patterns and trends? And how can manufacturers use these insights to meet customer needs during this challenging period?
With the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, people are now proactively managing their health, and immunity is at the forefront. Food is medicine and people are more careful with their diet, and to what they eat or drink, as fundamental to supporting their health and wellbeing. They are incorporating foods with more natural ingredients offering health or other functional benefits.
As a result, on Trendspotter, we see local plants, seeds and spices rich in specific vitamins or essential sources of micronutrients trending. Examples include lemongrass, pandan leaf, neem and jamu. We see increased popularity of nootropics known to improve cognitive function and adaptogens that fight the effects of stress and help the body re-balance, like basil, ginger and turmeric.
The pandemic has also seen a rise in intermittent, healthier ways of eating, and as a result, meal snacks or snack-sized portions of popular foods are gaining momentum. Trendspotter is also seeing refined versions of local street food where the focus is on health, food safety and hygiene. These go beyond pre-mix options, and now include freshly-sourced ingredients and prepared to order. Examples include Chaat and Vada Pav in India or Kumpir (baked potato) in Turkey, all prepared and packaged to strict hygiene standards.
Based on these insights on changing consumer habits and preferences, it is clear there are multiple opportunities for food and beverage manufacturers to innovate and create products that consumers value.
With the proliferation of regional tastes and flavors, how can Kerry Trendspotter assist F&B companies to optimise this growing trend? Any new developments in regional flavors?
Trendspotter can identify familiar and preferred taste profiles in a market. Secondly, it can pick out trending local and seasonal ingredients that bring freshness and nutritional value. While traditional recipes are becoming popular, consumers are concerned about unhealthy ingredients. Trendspotter can identify healthier substitutes for less healthy ingredients used in traditional recipes.
At Kerry, our RD&A and in-house chefs work with popular ingredients to adapt traditional tastes to suit changing lifestyles, health and taste preferences. They can also add value with fusion ingredients, format changes and presentation styles, thereby addressing consumer demand for fresh, exciting taste experiences.
Examples of trending local and regional ingredients/flavours identified by Trendspotter include Curcumin in India; edible flowers like lavender and hibiscus in Korea; kefir and kombucha in Saudi and UAE; kakadu in Australia; and tempeh in South Africa.

Could you provide us with one or 2 successful Trendspotter case study for this region ?
One of our biggest customers (anonymous) was looking at increasing market share in the bakery and cakes category. Our primary research indicated that this is an indulgence-driven category and brands need to keep consumers excited by innovating with novel and luxurious flavours as well as contrasting textures. However, as consumers become more health-conscious, they also want healthier options.
We used Trendspotter to identify trending local flavours and natural ingredients that could be used to create “guilt-free cake” concepts. The AI tool also identified alternative ingredients like natural sweeteners, and those that would provide sensory stimulation.
Multiple concepts were created and presented within 2 weeks of the customer brief and the winning concept was ready for launch in about 8 weeks.
These concepts created with Trendspotter insights not only bolstered health perceptions but also allowed our customer to elevate their brand to premium positioning.

According to Preenawan Rattananupap, Senior Marketing Manager (Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia), Kerry, “Trendspotter supports customer confidence in their new product development. Often, they come to us for regular updates on food and beverage trends. Trendspotter has helped us forge a closer innovative partner-customer relationship.”
 
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