Speaking to FoodNavigator-Asia as part of our Food and Beverage Trailblazers podcast, Lecka founder Markus Gnirck highlighted that the notion of Asian consumer tastebuds being far more sophisticated than others is not a myth, especially in the South East Asian region.
“We have tried and tested this, and for example if you give a product with several ingredients to say a German consumer to try and ask them what they can taste, they can likely highlight the key items such as the pineapple or the walnut - but if you give it to a Vietnamese consumer for example, they are able to really identify every single ingredient, in addition to specifying the different types of textures and sweetness and sourness in there,” Gnirck told us.
“It's really mind blowing how much more South East Asian consumers are so used to great tastes and flavours, which has made their tastebuds that much more sophisticated and picky, to an extent.
“That makes it very challenging for food brands but also exciting for innovation as it will really push us to the next level.”
He added that the age-old strategy of taking existing flavours and exporting these will not go over well in this region, and firms need to keep in mind how different flavour preferences are even within the same country.
“We’ve tried the sweeter or sweetened flavours commonly used in western markets over here, and these have not been successful,” said Gnirck.
“A lot of these very typical recipes include dates and oats – both of which are not found here as native agricultural products – and instead based on our research and trials, we definitely are seeing this interesting divide even within the respective countries.
“In Vietnam for example in the north you have tastebuds that prefer closer to more bitter and savoury flavours, but the further you move down south towards Ho Chi Minh and the Mekong Delta, people are more into the fruits and nuts side of things.
“And I think that kind of represents the Asian split as a whole - North East Asia has more savoury bitter flavours and then the further you go south you have more spicy and fruity and sweet flavours which is seen in places like Thailand, Philippines, Indonesia or Malaysia
“So we are really catering towards these combinations within Vietnam now, and as we are expanding to more countries, we are also seeing which countries appreciate what flavours – for example, we are in Singapore and are now developing a salted egg flavour for both the bars and our upcoming granola products.”
In addition, the use of localized ingredients to make localized flavours makes for shorter ingredient transportation routes, which contributes greatly to any sustainability goals as this would significantly cut carbon footprints.
Listen to the podcast above to find out more.