Belgian bakery, patisserie and chocolate ingredients company Puratos announced the launch of its Puratos Asia development centre in Hong Kong. Opening in March, the centre aims to foster business development in the region, and provide services for Asian artisans, industrial food producers, retailers and food service companies.
The ingredients giant has invested around US$500 million in putting together the centre.
Daniel Malcorps, chief executive officer at Puratos Corporation, told Marketing that its food ingredient business in Asia represents 10% of its global business, but the region's industry growth (4.7%) is four times faster than the rest of the world (1.2%). "The company is experiencing double-digit growth in Asia. Hong Kong, with much food lovers and visitors to keep the city dynamic and alive, serves as an excellent place to remain close to our customers in Asia."
Peter Deriemarker, market director Asia Pacific, Middle East, Africa at Puratos, added that the bakery business in Asia is benefiting from rising disposable income and changing lifestyle and consumption patterns.
However, Malcorps warned that challenges are for bakers to recognise the latest trend and translate them into real products in time.
One such trend Malcorps witnessed from the company's "Taste Tomorrow consumer survey" in the region, is that customers expect a greater diversity and higher quality of food in the future.
Additionally, they are more keen to buy products at bakeries where everything is baked with natural ingredients.
Other research highlights include:
- 65% of Asia-Pacific consumers expect a greater diversity of food in the future
- Only 38% of consumers expect that food will be of higher quality in the future
- 73% read food labels in detail
- Asia-Pacific consumers appreciate ‘power ingredients’ that balance taste and health; for example, 81% find wholegrain/wholemeal healthy and 67% find it tasty
- 75% of consumers would buy more products at bakeries where everything is baked with natural ingredients, while 31% fear food will become less natural in the future
- 75% appreciate bakeries where the oven is in sight and bakery items are freshly baked on site
- 42% of Asia-Pacific consumers freeze bread weekly to preserve freshness
"The common industrial practise is to be cost-focused, but they should also stay customer-focused, by matching their products with customers' ever-changing desires, and constantly innovating," he advised.
While Malcorps also witnessed food companies in the region facing hurdles when in search of talent, he suggested that industries keep an eye on improving the operations. "They may focus on products that are easy to work with to help with the operation process," Malcorps explained.
The Puratos Asia development centre is staffed by an international technical team and provides facilities including sensory analysis lab, sensobox mobile sensorial lab, industrial competence centre and a long-term research laboratory. It also includes a chocolate café and bakery café to inspire customers with the latest tastes in bread, cake, chocolate and pastry .
In addition to its R&D function, the Hong Kong ADC will serve as Puratos’ regional headquarters.