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Complete Food Solutions

18 December 2019 by Food&HotelAsia

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Nutritionally-dense total meal alternatives have been rising in popularity, particularly in markets such as the US and UK. English-brand Huel, cleverly abbreviating “Human Fuel,” has made a global name in offering convenience with bottled complete meals that offer measured amounts of protein, carbohydrates and fats in vegan-friendly formats. California-made Soylent features a similar range of RTD beverages, powders and bars that pride itself in making nutrition more accessible to everyone through their micro and macro profile enhanced collection.

Over time, traditional meal replacement formats such as liquid shakes and formula have somehow been associated with slimming products for people wanting to shed some pounds or athletes with highly specialized dietary requirements. Slowly, a space has opened up for nutritious meal alternatives that come in more familiar, appetizing and satisfying forms, easing the transition from actual food to food substitute for on-the-go consumers. Asian Consumer Intelligence probes into some of these creative and innovative ways manufacturers are offering more balanced nutritional options to time-poor, health-conscious individuals and follows some of the trend’s notable examples in the APAC region.

In Singapore, where busy lifestyles and hectic schedules are pushing for smarter and more effective ways to get nutritional requirements to the body, we find a relatively young player called Rice with Love, which has been awarded by the nation’s Health Promotion Board the ‘healthier choice label’ for its rice blend products. It’s recipe, which is tailored to Asian taste profiles and fits in with the nation’s rice-eating culture, claims to be so nutritionally balanced that one can simply choose to eat it on its own as well as part of a meal.

By blending brown and white rice with whole grains, pulses, nuts and seeds, the manufacturer has not only improved the fiber, protein, vitamin and mineral content of its creation, it has also found that it has significantly lowered the meal’s Glycemic Index (which tends to be much higher in plain white rice and is responsible for creating a spike in blood sugar after a meal.) As a collaborative project of New Zealand company Real Panacea International and a Singaporean research body, years of trials and scientific research back up the brand’s claims of having 90% more nutritional benefits than regular rice varietals.

The assortment features flavors such as Original Jasmine Rice Blend, Japonica Rice Blend and Nut-free Red Cargo Rice Blend and combines natural ingredients such as oats, soybeans, corn grits, linseed oil and millet which contributes to its high Omega 3 and antioxidant content. Rice with Love showcased their product range at the Superfood Asia 2019 convention in the Lion City in April 2019.

Moving on to Japan, Nissin Foods, which made headlines in Aug. 2019 with its breakthrough product that has allowed them to take their line of noodles into uncharted territories in terms of nutritional value. The A.I. Noodle Series, short for All-In Noodles, is completely changing the game for instant ramen with its patented technology called “Nutrition Hold Press Process” that allows 13 different vitamins, 13 minerals, protein and fiber to be tightly packed in the center of each pasta strand while having it appear like a regular noodle with standard coating. This special process also maintains the texture and flavor that people love from their noodles, while greatly reducing carbohydrate content by up to 40 percent. Each packet delivers up to one third of the recommended dietary nutritional intake.

Tokyo-born Base Food is also making headway in terms of complete meal alternatives with their own version of nutritionally-enhanced pasta, bread and noodles. The start-up launched in 2017 with a portfolio of ten different products that allowed consumers to get their daily nutrient fix. Made with whole wheat, seaweed, soy and flaxseed oil, one serving of Base Noodle provides 29g of protein, 8g of fiber, and 25 vitamins and minerals and takes just two minutes to prepare. In October 2019, it successfully expanded Base Noodle to US customers.

Also in Japan, ‘COMP’ gummies have become an unusual, albeit fun alternative for consumers looking to get their daily nutrients quickly and easily. Dubbed as the “world’s first complete food balance jelly confection,” one packet of the chewable Comp Gummy Nutrition Candy (containing 10 candies) contains one quarter of the prescribed daily nutritional consumption. Although not meant to replace full meals, these sugary treats put the focus on better snacking and provide a superior nutritional profile than their junk counterparts.

Heading on to China, Nestle is vigorously pursuing their plans of unveiling 170 fresh products this 2019 – most of which are geared to filling up “blank spaces” in the nutritional realm.  One such product is Xingshan, jointly-developed by Nestlé Incubator and Totole, which is a ready-to-drink soup brand that aims to provide high quality health supplements by combining modern technology and quality ingredients. Exploring the virtues of Traditional Chinese Medicine provides a unique way for the company to use time-honored practices and age-old wisdom in creating an herbal soup that boasts of the benefits of one of the healthiest, all-in-one meals of all time, and bottling it up for convenience. Chinese herbal soup takes time and effort to prepare but bears a host of benefits that include not just nutritional goodness but therapeutic functions, not to mention weight-maintaining properties. The applications for flavor and ingredients are also limitless, thereby increasing the nutrient count of this product to boundless proportions.

So what? Diet fatigue and constant bombardment with shifting trends that favor one food group over another could be one of the reasons that consumers may appreciate this new breed of meal solutions that are made of whole food or resemble actual homemade dishes. Although the delivery system is an important aspect of meal replacements that were made precisely to answer time constraints and mobile lifestyles, there are still some benefits to rethinking the futuristic approach that has users swallowing a magic pill instead of slurping up a pasta bowl.  Of course, the cost to synthesize needed nutrients into a bite size bar also plays a factor into the future of complete meal solutions that are looking into considerably compact formats. 

Find more similar reports on Asian Consumer Intelligence website here.