Asians Much More Interested in Eating Healthy Than Westerners

The East and West are worlds apart when it comes to healthy eating, an online survey found.

Mar. 28, 2017
By Stav Dimitropoulos

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Are the East and West worlds apart, even in the Internet-era of glob­al­iza­tion? According to Richard Clarke, direc­tor of Ingredient Communications, whose com­pany com­mis­sioned a sur­vey called The East-West Nutrition Divide,” cat­e­gor­i­cally it seems so when it comes to healthy eat­ing.

Anyone who’s inter­ested in pro­mot­ing healthy eat­ing needs to under­stand that con­sumers are dif­fer­ent every­where.- Richard Clarke, Ingredient Communications

The sur­vey found that Asian con­sumers are much more invested in improv­ing their dietary habits than con­sumers in the Western hemi­sphere, a result Clarke attrib­uted to atti­tudes on diet and nutri­tion deeply rooted in his­tory, tra­di­tion and cul­ture.

In an online sur­vey com­mis­sioned by Clarke’s com­pany and mar­ket researchers Asia Opinions in October 2016, researchers asked 600 con­sumers in Asia and 700 in the Western hemi­sphere, Australia and New Zealand included, about their views on a slew of dietary issues (500 par­tic­i­pants in the sur­vey were from the UK, 200 from India, 200 from the Philippines, 100 from Singapore, 100 from Malaysia, 50 from the US, 50 from Australia, 50 from Canada, and 50 from New Zealand).

It was shown that around seven in ten of Asian respon­dents sur­veyed (68 per­cent) were very inter­ested” in nutri­tion and healthy eat­ing, as opposed to 38 per­cent of cit­i­zens in the West. Then, two in five (39 per­cent) Asian con­sumers answered that cut­ting down on their con­sump­tion of meat was cru­cial to achiev­ing a healthy diet.

On the con­trary, only 25 per­cent of Western con­sumers agreed with this stance. Additionally, Asian buy­ers appeared roughly three times like­lier than Westerners to be more will­ing to buy a prod­uct if it made veg­e­tar­ian or vegan health claims (28 per­cent ver­sus 10 per­cent, respec­tively).

Among the Asian coun­tries par­tak­ing in the sur­vey, India and the Philippines showed the high­est inter­est in healthy eat­ing: 82 per cent of Indian and 71 per cent of Pinoy peo­ple responded that they were very inter­ested in healthy eat­ing. This find­ing came in stark con­trast to the atti­tudes of con­sumers in the UK and Australia, with only 36 per­cent of the for­mer and 26 per­cent of the lat­ter tak­ing the same inter­est in nutri­tion and healthy eat­ing, although in the US the fig­ure was as high as 71 per­cent.

What can one infer of these find­ings? Asian con­sumers have long been well known for their knowl­edge of and pas­sion for food, and nutri­tion tends to play a more cen­tral role in Asian cul­tures than it does in the West,” Clarke told Olive Oil Times. It will take many years for glob­al­iza­tion to change habits that have been formed over cen­turies.”

It is at this exact point that Clarke urges the eater to think glo­cally, not glob­ally.

The term glo­cal­iza­tion” comes from merg­ing the words glob­al­iza­tion” and local­iza­tion.” It is used to describe the adjust­ment of inter­na­tional prod­ucts to the par­tic­u­lar­i­ties of a local cul­ture in which they are traded. This means that the prod­uct or ser­vice may be tai­lored to com­ply with local laws, cus­toms or con­sumer pref­er­ences, mak­ing, in effect, glo­cal­ized prod­ucts or ser­vices much more inter­est­ing and valu­able to the end user.

Anyone who’s inter­ested in pro­mot­ing healthy eat­ing — whether it’s gov­ern­ments or food man­u­fac­tur­ers — needs to under­stand that con­sumers are dif­fer­ent every­where. What works in one coun­try may fail in another. The prod­ucts con­sumers like, the mes­sages they respond to, and the sources of infor­ma­tion they trust all vary hugely between cul­tures. So the les­son is, do your research and under­stand your audi­ence.” said Clarke.



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