June 30, 2004



Soya Consumption Increasing In Asia


Growing consumer awareness of the health benefits of soya consumption is reinvigorating sales of soy drinks in south-east Asia. While the category is dominated by Asian manufacturers, there could be opportunities for European firms making organic soy drinks or other non-dairy alternatives.


Scientific research linking soya consumption to low cholesterol and lower incidence of osteoporosis is widening consumer appeal for soya drinks. Governments in various Asian countries are also encouraging soya milk consumption because of its health and nutrition benefits.


Other factors driving growth include marketing campaigns of manufacturers, with the South-East Asia region home to some of the largest soya drink manufacturers in Asia, such as Malaysia's Yeo Hiap Seng and Green Spot in Thailand.


But while there is little opportunity for European soymilk makers in this market, which is dominated by Asian companies that have often been producing for over 20 years, the organic soymilk sector has so far been created by imports. The most common sources of organic soya drinks include Australia and USA, and there is very little production of organic soya drinks in South-East Asia.


Bigger opportunities for European companies exist in the rice drink and oat drink markets. These markets are highly dependent on imports and most volume is imported from Australia, North America and Europe. Thus there is potential here for European companies.


Soya drinks still, however, account for the majority of sales volume in the South-East Asian non-dairy drinks market, which is set to be worth US$220 million in retail sales this year. Rice drinks and oat drinks are not widely available in South-East Asian countries with low consumer awareness and high retail prices hindering market growth.

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