FNA InnovATE: Seaweed Snacks
Sea-rious snacking: Taokaenoi on how health, snacking and Hallyu trends have merged to boost seaweed snacks market
Taokaenoi (translated to English as ‘Little Boss’) is undoubtedly the biggest name for snacks made from seaweed in the Asia Pacific region, with not only leading market share in Thailand but also exports to almost 40 markets worldwide.
According to the brand’s International Brand and Marketing Director Chirawit Wongpitak, the firm has seen the popularity of its seaweed snacks rise in parallel with consumer demand for healthier eating, which he attributes to seaweed’s existing reputation as a nutritious food item on its own.
“Many more consumers have been snacking a lot more since the COVID-19 pandemic hit, but even whilst sitting at home and watching movies, everyone also wants a healthier, lighter snack to go along,” he told FoodNavigator-Asia.
“This is where Taokaenoi has an advantage as seaweed snacks are lighter compared to other options out there [such as potato or rice] and are also known for being healthy, and are plant-based as well.
“So with this change in consumer lifestyle and increased demand for snacks, when a product is able to satisfy multiple factors from health to plant-based, these all combine to become strong drivers for the seaweed snacking market.”
The firm’s portfolio of seaweed snacks is very wide-ranging, from grilled crispy seaweed in a dozen flavours to tempura seaweed in five flavours as well as many other variations from Super Crisp to Grilled Big Roll to Big Sheet and more.
“With the health trend on the rise, consumers are also looking for more functionality out of their foods, including their snacks, and to meet this we have increased the nutrients provided in the seaweed snacks by adding other nutritious ingredients such as grains, sunflower seeds and sesame,” he added.
“Our Premium Select range for example has a tempura seaweed mixed with black sesame, white sesame and sunflower seeds.”
Wongpitak also highlighted the strong influence of the Korean Wave or Hallyu on the South East Asian market, particularly in Thailand where K-pop has become a very strong influence and point of attraction for younger consumers.
“These Korean trends extend to the entire snacking industry, but it has served as a particularly strong boost for the seaweed snacks market,” he said.
“This is because seaweed is very much related to Korean food, as it is a well-known traditional staple for them both as a snack as well as a main dish, and this association has been very good for us.”
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