Southern Asia is one of Australia’s most diverse export regions but it presents significant growth opportunities for our red meat and livestock industry as segments of its large consumer base experience rising disposable incomes.
The region takes in the major markets of Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, the Philippines and Vietnam, representing a mix of religions, cultures, cuisines, governments and economies.
More than half of Australian beef exports to the region (excluding Indonesia) consist of manufacturing beef, however, there’s growing opportunity to be selling premium product in a region which has one of the fastest-growing consumer markets in the world.
Increasingly urban populations with rising disposable incomes are demanding premium western-style product within modern food service and retail outlets.
Increasingly urban populations with rising disposable incomes are demanding premium western-style product within modern food service and retail outlets, as they take a more global outlook, travelling and studying overseas.
MLA is targeting this shifting consumer landscape in a number of ways, including through research into attractive cities. MLA has identified five main cities where the focus will be in the next five years – Singapore, Jakarta, Bangkok, Ho Chi Minh City and Kuala Lumpur.
MLA is delving further into these cities to gain a deeper understanding of their demographics, consumers and purchasing behaviours, why they’re buying red meat or what the barriers are. All of this information will be fed back to the industry and market strategies and programs potentially developed around those findings.
The cities are identified as attractive because of their demographics, rising incomes, population growth, and political stability – they’re attractive markets to be in and cities where economic growth is happening. Focusing on cities, rather than entire countries, allows a more targeted approach, particularly when some countries are very large and diverse.
Opportunities to tap into this growing demand could be through new product development, looking at trends such as the ageing population or within the snacking category. South East Asia has a snacking culture, and there are a lot of products available to consumers in that category. Red meat is not currently playing in the snacking category and this could be an opportunity for new product development.
Another major opportunity in the region in terms of trends is nutrition. Singapore has one of the highest incidences of diabetes among developed countries – by 2035, the prevalence of prediabetes among Singaporeans is expected to be one in four. It’s a huge issue and the Singapore government is declaring ‘War on Diabetes’ by putting $15 million towards developing lower sugar foods, sauces and beverages. It’s a significant opportunity to promote the nutritional benefits of red meat and educate consumers around healthy diets and lifestyles and tap into the wellness trend which is happening right across southern Asia.
Putting the consumer first and understanding their needs is the key to success in any market. MLA will focus on the nutrition message, educating consumers on why Australian red meat is the best choice and moving them up the value chain.
- Ellen Rodgers is MLA’s international business manager for Southern Asia and is based in Singapore.