Commentary for World Health Day — “This Year’s More Important than Ever’

Guest author:

  • CHRISTIAN PHILIPPSEN, Managing Director, BENEO Asia-Pacific

This year’s World Health Day is more important than ever. Its theme, “Our Planet, Our Health”, broadens the usual notions of health to encompass the environment — spotlighting the innate relationship between the Earth’s wellbeing and our own.

When it comes to our own welfare, having proper nutrition is key to addressing the myriad of health challenges facing the region. Within Southeast Asia, the population struggles with non-communicable diseases (NCDs) such as diabetes, with 1 in 11 adults currently living with the condition 1. A rapidly ageing population is another long-standing issue that further contributes to the need of promoting healthy living, particularly as one’s immunity declines with age.

Increasingly, we are seeing consumers recognize the critical role that nutrition plays in staying healthy. In fact, BENEO’s research 2 indicates that 85% of Asian consumers will make greater attempts to eat and drink healthier. This also includes the growing awareness that carbohydrates differ in quality. For example, incorporating functional ingredients like the slow-release carbohydrate Palatinose™ can help
manage blood glucose levels, lowering the risk of developing Type II diabetes.

Images supplied.

Besides our own wellbeing, consumers have also started paying more attention to sustainability, recognizing the intrinsic link between our health and that of our planet. Environmental concerns were heightened as a result of Covid-19, with 60% of consumers now more attentive to the impact their food and drink consumption has on the environment 3 . This is also driving the growth of plant-based foods, with almost half of the consumers across the globe being interested in this type of diet 4 . Manufacturers can embrace the plant-based momentum by using proteins from plant sources to create meat- and dairy-free products that are not only more nutritional, but retain a similar taste and texture to the original.

Apart from offering functional ingredients for consumers, manufacturers also have a responsibility to create more sustainable production processes. BENEO is constantly improving sustainability along the entire value chain. This includes supporting sustainable farming to encourage biodiversity as well as reducing water pollution and soil erosion. We’ve also successfully reduced our specific energy
consumption by 50% over the last 30 years, demonstrating our commitment to the planet.

In line with 2022’s theme for World Health Day, manufacturers are not only well-positioned to support consumers with their healthy living objectives through leveraging functional ingredients, but also have a
duty to our planet by implementing sustainable manufacturing practices. Only then can we work towards promoting health-focused environments for all. (✓)

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1 International Diabetes Foundation Diabetes Atlas, 10th Edition 2021
2 BENEO Consumer Health Survey: InSites November 2020 Quantitative Survey (Sample size: 3000. 1000 from Thailand, Vietnam and Taiwan)
3 FMCG Gurus COVID-19 Survey: Eighteen countries surveyed in July 2020 [Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Denmark, France, Germany, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Poland, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, UK, USA, Vietnam]
4 BENEO 2021 Global Plant-Based Survey: InSites July 2021 Quantitative Survey in Spain, France, Germany, Poland, UK, US, Brazil, Australia, China and Russia. Min. 1000 consumers/ country = 11,990 consumers in total

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