Although a powerhouse in both health ingredient and finished product spaces in Japan, the company believes there is considerable scope for growth for its nutritional foods arm in South East Asian markets.
“We are very well known in Japan, but outside of Japan, we have a lot of work to do,” said Jason Foo, vice-president of Morinaga Nutritional Foods (Asia Pacific).
The company has attended a number of events around South East Asia over the past year, to introduce the Morinaga brand to the regional health and functional food industries.
“We were pretty aggressive on this part for the past 12 months because we wanted to raise the profile – at least in letting people know what Morinaga is producing,” he added.
“Our expertise, our strong innovation in research has been successfully applied to finished products in Japan. So it brings a lot of clinical benefits to consumers in Japan.”
The key now is to bring this same level of expertise to partners in other parts of the region.
“We will be supporting our partners in each of the individual countries to launch and develop functional products using our ingredients. For example, in Indonesia, we are working with Kalbe. In Philippines we are still looking for good partners for our probiotics and other functional ingredients,” he said.
“Morinaga has been known for probiotics, but what a lot of people did not know is that Morinaga also has a range of special and very unique ingredients.”
For example, the compnay has an bovine casein-derived peptide Met-Lys-Pro (MKP) ingredient, which it claims can reduce blood pressure.
Raise the profile
"We are looking for partners in countries like the Philippines to produce functional products based on this special ingredient,” Foo said.
“This is the kind of innovation that Morinaga is really good at, but nobody knows. Thus, it is one of our jobs here in South East Asia to raise the profile of these products, and to showcase Morinaga’s expertise in research and development.”
Despite its ambitious plans, Foo said the company had to set realistic targets.
“Obviously we want to sell everything, everywhere. But being realistic, we have to choose our countries,” he said.
One clear health trend that syncs right in with Morinaga’s strategy for its functional ingredients, is the consumers’ growing preference for supplements targetting specific functions.
“The clear trend is that people want supplements to be function specific, but they want these supplements to be clinically proven, as well,” said Foo.
“The ingredients that we launched serves a clinical function so most of the ingredients we have, have clinical studies behind it.
“We have been quiet for 99 years. We just want to raise our profile and let the world know what Morinaga stands for, what products we have,” he concluded.