Now in its sixth year, the Natural & Organic Asia (NOA) trade show fair took place this week at the Hong Kong Convention & Exhibition Centre (HKCEC) in Wanchai, showcasing over 250 brands from around the world. The trade show is an established sourcing and trading platform for the Asia Pacific region, featuring global products in the natural and organic industry, from Singapore to Australia, the United States, Thailand and Singapore. Below, we highlight the major consumer trends we spotted on the show floor.
NOA 2019 presented more “New To Asia” natural and organic products from different sectors, including wellness, beauty, personal care and food and beverages. This is partly due to the growing market in Asia where consumers are looking for cleaner, more sustainable and natural products. Sales in the natural and organic beauty and cosmetics sector, for instance, have shot up in the region far more than European and North American markets, according to Ecovia Intelligence.
At the show, we spoke to Carson Wong from the Baptist University’s Hong Kong Organic Resource Centre (HKORC) who commented on the rising popularity of organic products in Hong Kong and Asia. Organic farming, in particular, is on the rise as “more established farms are switching to organic growing practices, and new ones adopt organic farming from the outset due to consumer awareness about the health and safety benefits of certified organic produce.” It is also part of a broader trend that we are seeing worldwide – consumers are increasingly looking to mission-driven brands and more careful to scrutinise the integrity of products, for the planet and for their own health.
Green Queen’s founder Sonalie Figueiras spoke about this change in consumer mentality as a reflection of shifting global demographics in her “Global Eco Wellness Trends” talk as part of the NOA Academy programming. From being dominated by boomers and Gen Xers, Millennials and Gen Zers now account for almost two-thirds of the world’s population. This digital-forward generation is especially attuned to a brand’s mission and ethical scorecard, and extremely aware about the negative effects of climate change.
For the natural and organics industry, this presents an opportunity to respond to these consumers. While in general Asia is lagging behind Europe, Pacific and North America, exhibitor selection at this year’s NOA trade fair speaks to the overall trend towards eco-conscious products.
Rise In Self-Care & Relaxation Products
There was a marked growth in the number of products aiming at catering to busy city dwellers, who are overworked and looking for natural and organic ways to destress. This is unsurprising given that we now live in an increasingly tech frenzied and instant world, which makes switching off a harder-to-achieve ideal. In addition to more brands offering natural and organic essential oils, calming scents and bath salts, companies are also adding in the “self-care” element in other lifestyle products. For example, more supplements, vitamins and “boosters” on the market are now sold as products that help with energy levels, daily wellness and to relieve anxiety. We also noticed this happening in home products – looking to enter the Asian market was Homie Life In Balance, a Swedish brand on a mission to provide home products with health in mind, from vitamin enriched coffees to body oils and candles with calming properties.
READ: Green Queen’s Favourite Products From Natural & Organic Asia 2019
(Some) More Eco-Forward Packaging Solutions
As the climate crisis and mounting global waste problem continues to escalate, and viral images of plastic pollution are circulated online, consumers are looking for more minimalistic and low waste products. NOA 2019 saw a rise in the number of brands featuring more plastic-free and no-frills style packaging in order to appeal to more eco-conscious shoppers. Some booths at the trade show, such as natural beauty brand Coconut Matter, have already adopted a completely plastic-free approach. In addition to using recycled paper, Hawaii-based Mãnoa Chocolate have gotten around the plastic film problem by adopting corn-based bio-cellulose plastic for their chocolate bars. Other brands have made some positive steps by switching some of its product packaging to paper based or recyclable materials, and offering take back schemes in the case of natural personal care and cosmetics company Zero Yet 100. In general however, most companies are still working out how to adopt a more circular model when it comes to product packaging, and have expressed concerns about some eco-friendly solutions such as refillable schemes.
Superfoods Are Everywhere
Asia is experiencing an all-time high in popularity of health and wellness related products. Sales in health and wellness businesses between 2007 to 2017 experienced a 30% growth in the Asian Pacific region, according to a 2018 analysis by Oliver Wyman. Superfoods are in the spotlight – and indeed, the NOA 2019 show saw an explosion of different superfood infused food and beverage products as well as lifestyle commodities. For instance, we saw more brands focused on selling natural clean protein powders, pure superfood powders made from grounded moringa and algae, and super-grains such as buckwheat and quinoa. We also saw these superfood ingredients featuring in more products beyond the scope of food – extracts from avocados, chia seeds and seaweed are becoming more common in skincare, body lotions and face masks.
Vegan & Cruelty-Free Is More Mainstream
Complementing the growth in eco-friendly, wellness and health products within the natural and organics industry is an even wider selection of vegan products now available and looking to launch in Hong Kong and Asia. Beyond ever increasing plant-based food options, from energy bars to chocolate, milk and meat alternatives, more companies are adopting a plant-based approach in beauty, personal care and cosmetic products too. For instance, natural body and skincare brand Uoga Uoga has infused berry extracts and plant oils such as argan and jojoba oil in their lipstick range. We also spotted fruit and seed ingredients in several korean hair care products, such as mango and papaya extract and linseeds. As with this vegan-friendly trend, more brands are vowing to be cruelty-free too and have ditched animal testing.
All images courtesy of Green Queen.