Asians love to eat and eating occupies a high place in Asian life. It has been said that eating is "the principal means of celebrating an conceivable event.,” Meals are a time to socialize and relax, and often the more people the merrier.

Food found in Asia often has more bones, shells and body parts than food found in the United States. It also tends to have more vegetables, less meat and often times less oil. Food varies a great deal from region to region, with rice being the staple in the south and noodles the staple in north, although both rice and noodles are generally offered everywhere.

Many Asians believe that food has medicinal qualities. They regard the collagen found in shark fin soup for instance as good for the skin. The vinegar from dragon fruit is said to be good for the spleen, pork is said be effective in increasing qi and tencha. Teas, traditionalist believe, keeps allergies at bay.

Asians prefer food that is less sweet than that eaten by white Europeans. Blacks and Hispanics like food that has about 10 percent more sugar than whites. Tropical Asia is the traditional source of black pepper, white pepper, cinnamon, cloves, ginger, mace, nutmeg, dill, cardamom seed, celery seed, and red pepper.

It has been said that the Chinese make food choice decisions based on the Five Fs: fresh fish, fresh fruits, fresh vegetables, fresh meats and fresh seafood. Chinese have traditionally liked their food very fresh. That is why you see so many live animals in the markets, Chinese like to see turtles that can still swim, chickens that can run, crabs that can pinch. Waiters at restaurants often show customers a live, flopping fish before it is thrown in a skillet. When shopping Chinese cooks look for fish with bright clear eyes and deep red gills; pork with a good ratio of meat to fat. They try to get vegetables that are as fresh as possible; get them from the market to the kitchen in as short of time as possible; and cut them at the last minute.

Food shopping in southern China has traditionally been done at “wet markets” — bustling food bazaars that truck in fresh vegetables and live animals every morning. Most customers have traditionally bought food and prepared it the same day. SARS, bird flu and food poisoning scares have raised safety concerns about these markets.

Shopping habits have changed as people have acquired refrigerators and microwave ovens and have started shopping at Western-style supermarkets. Consumers now buy more processed and frozen food and more dairy products than they used to. One customer at a Shanghai supermarket told the New York Times, “I come here more than 10 times a month. You can get everything here. And you can do all your shopping at once.”

Buddhism, Meat, Eggs and Milk

Buddhists are not supposed to slaughter or witness the slaughter of animals. But eating meat is okay as long as one does not take part in the animal’s death. Buddha himself ate boar meat. In Tibet, Sri Lanka, Thailand and other Buddhist countries priests eat meat and dairy products.

Technically Buddhists are not even supposed to break open eggs. In some places they can get eggs that have “accidently” been broken open or are broken open for them on request. The same hold true for live animals purchased at a market. In some cases a Buddhist individual picks out what he wants, pays for it and leaves. As he walk down the street, the butcher runs behind him and give him the freshly killed animal, saying has just died n an accident.

Even though The Buddha voiced his opposition to killing animals either for food or ritualistic passages from early Buddhists texts suggest that not only did he sometimes eat meat he may have died from food poisoning from contaminated pork. (Other say he died from eating a poisonous mushroom).

In traditional Asian cooking you find no cheese, milk, cream sauces, or butter. In many places people have never tried milk or milk products. Dried fish is often used in mousetraps rather than cheese.

Milk, Butter, Cheese and Lactase Races

Some Asians don't like cheese, butter, milk or other dairy prodcuts and in some cases get physically sick if they eat them. In the old days, many Asian didn't even like their smell. Nineteenth century Japanese described Europeans traders as “bata-kusai” ("stinks of butter").

The aversion for dairy products is partly the result of the fact that many Asians lose lactase, an the enzyme which helps in digestion of milk sugar, as they get older. Groups that don't possess the lactase enzyme are called lactase negative races and those that have it are called lactase positive races.

Almost all mammalian milk contains lactose, a complex sugar that is broken down in the body of most people into simpler sugars like glucose by lactase. If people who lack lactase consume a lot of dairy products, undigested lactose accumulates in their large intestines, ferments, and emits gas. This leads to bloating and diarrhea.

Most adult animals can not tolerate lactose. Over time through evolution humans have developed a tolerance to lactose. Around 8000 years ago most people were lactase negative because they stopped consuming milk when they were weaned form their mothers. Beginning around 4000 B.C. some groups of people began drinking milk from domesticated animals, and later milk became an important food source for people in northern and central Europe, Arabia and parts of West Africa. Natural selection enabled these people to retain the lactase enzyme into adulthood while groups that drink milk lost the enzyme in childhood.

Exposure to American food like pizza and cheeseburgers have made dairy products more palatable to young Asians.

Obesity in Asia

Obesity is becoming a problem as more people move to the cities, eat more fatty food and adopt a more sedentary lifestyles. Health problems associated with obesity — such as cardiovascular disease, stroke, diabetes, hypertension — are on the rise and blamed for many more deaths than they were in the past. About a third of people in Asia and the western Pacific were overweight in 2005 with the numbers seen growing to 53 percent of men and 44 percent of women by 2015, the World Health Organisation estimated.

In China, 23 percent of the population is overweight, In India, obese people make up a quarter of the population in some cities, a by-product of rising incomes. Particularly alarming are increases in forms of diabetes among children normally associated with adults and the high rates of cardiovascular disease associated with people who eat fatty foods, smoke and don’t get much exercise.

Asians tend to store more fat around the abdomen than people of European descent and this fat puts particularly high amounts of stress on the heart and cardiovascular system. Studies also seem to indicate that Asians encounter greater health risks from smaller amounts of fat than is the case with people of European descent.

Fat has traditionally been a sign of wealth because only the rich could afford to eat a lot. In some cases countries have to deal with increasing numbers of obese people among the upper and middle classes are dealing with food shortages among the poor and lower classes.


Rice is the world’s No.1 the world's most important food crop and dietary staple, ahead of wheat, corn and bananas. It is the chief source of food for about 3 billion people, half of the world’s population, and accounts for 20 percent of all the calories that mankind consumes. In Asia, more than 2 billion people rely on rice for 60 to 70 percent of their calories. If consumption trends continue 4.6 billion people will consume rice in 2025 and production must increase 20 percent to keep up with demand.

Freshly harvested rice grains include a kernel made of an embryo (the heart of the seed), the endosperm that nourishes the embryo, a hull and several layers of bran which surround kernel. White rice consumed by most people is made up exclusively of kernels. Brown rice is rice that retains a few nutritious layers of bran.

The seeds in rice are contained in branching heads called panicles. Rice seeds, or grains, are 80 percent starch. The remainder is mostly water and small amounts of phosphorus, potassium, calcium and B vitamins. The bran and hull are removed in the milling process. In most places this residue is fed to livestock, but in Japan the bran is made into salad and cooking oil believed to prolong life. In Egypt and India it is made into soap. Eating unpolished rice prevents beriberi.

The texture of rice is determined by a component in the starch called amylose. If the amylose content is low (10 to 18 percent) the rice is soft and slightly sticky. If it is high (25 to 30 percent) the rice is harder and fluffy. Chinese, Koreans and Japanese prefer their rice on the sticky side. People in India, Bangladesh and Pakistan like theirs fluffy, while people in Southeast Asia, Indonesia, Europe and the United States like theirs in between. Laotians like their rice gluey (2 percent amylose).

Rice porridge is common in some parts of Asia. It can be served with toppings such as herbs, pickles and peanuts.

Dealing with High Rice Prices

AFP reported in May 2008, “As the price of rice soars, some governments -- notably in Asia -- are becoming wary of the political risk of millions of hungry people on their doorstep. In response, governments are trying it out every technique possible to shield their populations, including introducing rationing, subsidies, price-fixing cartels and export curbs. But there appears to be no magic one-size-fits-all formula, partly because of national factors and partly because of the nature of the market. [Source: AFP, May 3, 2008]

"In Asia, most rice import and export is carried out by countries rather than by companies," according to Jonathan Pincus, chief economist for the UN Development Programme in Vietnam. "Producing countries are restricting exports because they're concerned about the domestic market," he told AFP. That in turn "means things just get tougher for consuming countries, which have to pay higher and higher prices."

In May 2008 Thailand said it had agreed in principle to form a rice price-fixing cartel -- similar to the oil industry's OPEC -- with neighbours Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar as well as Vietnam. Thailand was the world's top rice exporter in 2007 when it shipped around 9.5 million tonnes overseas, insists it has no plans to curb supplies. It has said it will gradually sell off its 2.1 million tonnes of stockpiled rice at 20 percent below current prices to relieve shortages.

In contrast Vietnam, the world's second biggest rice exporter, has reduced this year's cap on exports from four million to 3.5 million tonnes to secure domestic supplies and reduce prices fuelling double-digit inflation. Hanoi has also banned new export contracts until the end of June, although existing contracts -- including shipments to the Philippines at record prices of 1,200 dollars per tonne -- are being honoured.

Cambodia in late March 2008 banned rice exports to ease pressure on the domestic market after prices reached nearly a dollar a kilogramme, deepening poverty in a nation where one-third of the population lives on less than 50 cents a day. But Prime Minister Hun Sen said last week that the government was mulling exporting rice again, to find markets -- and revenue -- for its farmers.

India has banned export of non-basmati rice and last month withdrew export incentives relating to premium basmati, although existing contracts are being honoured, notably to needy countries such as Bangladesh and Sierra Leone. Brazil, which consumes virtually all of the 11 million tonnes it produces every year, did hint at an export ban but decided against it, preferring instead to urge producers to be cautious about supplies. Even in the United States, worries about supplies have seen panic-buying in some stores, and two big chains, Costco and Sam's Club, took measures last week to ration sales due to price hikes and uncertain deliveries.

The UN's Pincus said the price of rice was more volatile than that of maize and wheat as much less of it is traded. "Rice is mostly consumed in the countries where it's produced, and for that reason the world market is very thin. There are not a lot of buyers and not a lot of sellers," he said. "So what happens is that if there are some buyers who find themselves short, the international prices spike, and that's what we're seeing right now."

Japan heavily protects its own rice industry -- the government strictly controls the production and price of rice and imposes high taxes on exports -- and instead of curbing shipments has been trying to step up exports. In the Philippines, one of the world's biggest rice importers, President Gloria Arroyo has ordered steps to prevent hoarding and price gouging, and to ensure supplies. The government sells subsidised rice in poor neighbourhoods and is crafting a new scheme of rationing.

There is no rationing in Indonesia except where the government operates a subsidy scheme for the poor, which allows 15.5 million registered families to purchase 10 to 20 kilogrammes of rice a month at a third of the normal price. Indonesia has a de facto export ban, stipulating exports are only allowed when there is a domestic surplus of at least three million tonnes.

Bangladesh, which does not export rice due to its own needs, does not plan rationing, said the food ministry's senior information officer Golam Kibria. However the government is selling subsidised rice to help low-income families as many poor have been forced to go without meals.


Noodles are cheap, nutritious, and convenient. Dried noodles can be kept a long time without going bad. More than 100 different kinds of noodles are produced in Asia. More than 50 percent of the wheat consumption in the region is used in noodles. There are hundreds of thousands of noodle shops in Asia. Many people insist that the best way to eat noodles is to slurp them directly into your throat without chewing them.

Noodles are arguably the most popular food in China. Children are taught how to stretch dough into noodles at school and noodlemakers can make dozens of shapes ranging from "silk hair" to triangular. The noodle business is very competitive. There are more than 2,000 manufacturers of instant noodles. Unlike European pasta, which is pressed out a machine, Chinese noodles are kneaded, and then stretched and pulled into thin threads or rolled or sliced into flat ribbons. Describing a noodle maker at work in northern China Mike Edwards wrote in National Geographic, "He massaged a lump of dough, then drew it out to a length of about five feet. Then his arms flexed, his fingers twitched in cat’s cradle maneuvers, and suddenly the dough strands doubles, then quadruples and octuple."

Noodles have been consumed since 2000 B.C. A bowl with remarkably preserved yellow noodles dated to that period was unearthed at the Laija archeological site on the Yellow River. Found in a sealed earthenware bowl, the noodles were 50 centimeters long, 3 millimeters in diameter and resembled a traditional variety known as la nian that is still popular today. They appear to have been stretched by hand from dough made from millet.

Reported in the September 2005 issue of Nature and found by team sponsored by the Chinese Academy of Sciences, the discovery means that noodles in China preceded pasta in Italy by at least 2,000 years. The origin of pasta is not known and has been variously attributed to the Chinese, Etruscans, Romans and Arab traders. An Etruscan mural dated to the 4th century B.C. shows servants mixing flour and water, along with a rolling pin and cutters. It is thought they were baking the dough rather than boiling it as is done when making noodles.

The story that Marco Polo brought back the first pasta from China is a myth. Boiled pasta is more likely to have reached Italy via the Arab world between the 5th and 8th centuries. Documents from 1279, sixteen years before Marco Polo returned from China, show that Genoese soldiers were carrying pasta in their provisions.

Instant Noodles

Asia is home to the world’s largest instant noodles market. The market is valued at over $10 billion. It was valued at $6.6 billion in China in 2008 — with China’s 1.3 billion people spending an average of $5 per person a year on them — and is expected to double to $13 billion by 2012. World wide instant noodles in a cup is eaten by 100 million people a day. They now account for more than 60 percent of the instant noodle market. Some convenience stores in Asia seem like they are half filled them. Sales of Nissin’s Cup O’ Noodles is 25 billion units a year.

A pack of instant noodles generally costs between five cents and a dollar. A 41-year-old housewife in Shanghai told Reuters, “My husband and son love instant noodles. They eat them at breakfast and as a midnight snack more than twice a week.”

Competition is in the instant noddle business is very fierce. A lot of energy goes into product development, advertising and distribution, There are dozens of companies scrambling for market share and brand recognition. They use colorful packaging, hire major celebrities to plug their products and are constantly introducing new flavors and trying out new recipes. Of late there has been a growing market for low-fat and nutritional versions of instant noodles which are generally deep fried before the are processed. High end, five-yuan-a-package varieties brands are also becoming increasing popular.

Appetite for Live Fish Stripping Asian Reefs Bare

In January 2007, AP reported: “The rising demand for live reef fish by seafood-hungry diners in Greater China has been shown to have decimated endangered species around Asia, a study by the World Conservation Union said. Researchers studying the trade in Malaysia, formerly home to some of Asia's most abundant coastal reefs, found that catches of some grouper species and the Napoleon wrasse fell by as much as 99 percent between 1995 to 2003, a period coinciding with the rapid economic growth of countries where such exotic fish are a delicacy.[Associated Press, January 24, 2007]

"The removal of these large, predatory fish might upset the delicate balance of the coral reef ecosystem," said Helen Scales, who co-authored the study for the Swiss-based World Conservation Union, appearing in the online edition of Proceedings of The Royal Societies, a respected scientific journal. "With all the threats the reefs already face, these fishing practices take us one step closer to losing these reefs," Scales said.

The study of daily fish catches and sales quantifies what conservationists have said for a decade — that hunger for live reef fish in Hong Kong, Taiwan and mainland China is causing populations of wrasse, grouper and coral trout on coastal reefs to plummet in Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines and Papua New Guinea. Caught mostly by small fishermen who sometimes using cyanide to stun their catch, the fish are packaged in bags of water and flown thousands of kilometers (miles) to thriving seafood restaurants that resemble aquariums. Diners stroll past bubbling tanks stuffed full of fish that can cost as much as $100 a kilogram (2.2 pounds).

The World Wide Fund for Nature's Annadel Cabanban, who studies the trade in Malaysia, agreed with the study's finding that the numbers of reef fish were on the decline due to increasing human demand. She said destructive fishing practices -- namely explosives and the use of cyanide over the past 10 years -- were as much to blame for the decline as overfishing because they destroy crucial reef habitats, affecting reproduction.

"There are no predators to check the fish that eat the plants and the shellfish," Cabanban said. "There is a cascading effect on the reef. With so many herbivores, the plant population declines and fish run out of food and they die." Scales, the study's co-author, said it was impossible to quantify how many fish were taken by explosives or cyanide because fishermen refuse to discuss it. Conservationists fear that the growing demand for live fish -- an industry worth more than $1 billion a year -- is adding pressure to coral reefs already threatened by warming oceans, development and pollution. Eighty-eight percent of Southeast Asia's coral reefs face destruction from overfishing and pollution, the US-based World Resources Institute estimates. Most under threat were the Philippines and Indonesia, home to 77 percent of the region's nearly 100,000 square kilometers (40,000 square miles) of reefs.

Conservationists say the answer is to establish international standards for managing the import and export of reef fish. They also said consumers must be educated about the need to avoid certain endangered fish and promote captive breeding. So far, no international body has been willing to endorse standards commissioned by the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum, a group of Pacific Rim governments that would ban explosives and cyanide in fishing, boost monitoring and enforcement, and label fish caught by conventional means so they could fetch a premium price. "Traders are interested in ensuring they have a constant supply of product," said Geoffrey Muldoon, an Australian expert who helped write the standards. "Their idea of a constant supply is not to say we have to protect this area, but that we need to find a new area because we have fished this one out."

Consumers and Fishermen That Feed the Live Fish Market

By some estimates the live reef fish market could reach $1 billion a year soon. On eateries like the East Ocean Seafood Restaurant in Guangzhou, China — which displays live backtip grouper in its tanks — biologist Yvonne Sadovy of the University of Hong Kong told National Geographic: “The taste for fancy, novel, coral reef fish in spreading as wealth is spreading in mainland China.” Already some reefs have been stripped bare, with lobsters being the last remaining valuable species.

"Most Hong Kong people now choose to eat grouper because of the firm flesh. It's tastier," Ng Wai Lun, a restaurant owner in Hong Kong, told AP. Hong Kong consumes the most reef fish of any city. "Farmed fish is less tasty and fresh." Some go closer to the source. Kerry To, a Hong Konger, flew to Malaysia for a holiday to enjoy a meal of steamed grouper in Kota Kinabalu, a few hours away from key reef fishing grounds. "These fish are so big and taste so good. I'll be telling my friends," said To, 45, tucking into a meal of steamed fish with a dozen other Hong Kong tourists. [Associated Press, January 24, 2007]

Fishermen in Kudat — a sleepy South China Sea port in Malaysia that depends almost entirely on fishing — acknowledged that catches have declined. Their boats now travel to the neighboring Philippines to find prized reef fish. The fishermen argue that there are plenty of fish and that they have few options. "This is our livelihood," said Ismail Noor, 45, adding that he sometimes spends three days at sea in search of the fish. "If we stop, we would have no income."

Noor and his fellow fishermen insist they use only hooks and lines or nets. But the local fisheries department said the use of explosives remains widespread, despite campaigns that warn of the dangers of losing arms, legs and hands. "Most villagers are stubborn and have always done bombing since they were children," said fisheries official A. Hamid Maulana. "It is difficult to change attitudes."

Western Fast Food Tied to Heart Risks in Asia

In July 2012, Reuters reported: “Even relatively clean-living Singaporeans who regularly eat burgers, fries and other staples of U.S.-style fast food are at raised risk of diabetes and significantly more likely than peers to die of heart disease, according to a new study. With globalization, fast food - widely regarded as nutritionally poor - has become commonplace in East and Southeast Asia. But there's been little research into the effects of western junk food on the health of non-western populations, especially those transitioning to more-prosperous lifestyles. [Source: Aparna Narayanan, Reuters, July 20, 2012]

"Many cultures welcome (western fast food) because it's a sign they're developing their economies," said Andrew Odegaard, from the University of Minnesota School of Public Health, who led the new study published in the journal Circulation. "But while it may be desirable from a cultural standpoint, from a health perspective there may be a cost," he told Reuters Health.

Odegaard's team, which included researchers in the school of public health at the National University of Singapore, based their study on more than 60,000 Singaporeans of Chinese descent, who were interviewed in the 1990s, then followed for about a decade. Participants were between 45 and 74 years old at the outset, and during the study period, 1,397 died of cardiac causes and 2,252 developed type 2 diabetes.

Those who ate fast food two or more times a week had 27 percent greater odds of diabetes, and 56 percent higher risk of cardiac death, than those who ate little or no fast food, the researchers found. Among 811 subjects who ate western-style fast food four or more times a week, the risk of cardiac death rose by 80 percent. The findings held even after the researchers adjusted for other factors that could influence health, including age, sex, weight, smoking status and education level.

Odegaard's team found that eastern fast foods, or dimsum, such as noodles and dumplings, were not associated with more cases of type 2 diabetes and cardiac deaths. "It wasn't their own snacks that was putting them at increased risk, but American-style fast food," he said. The Singaporeans who ate western fast food often were more likely to be younger, educated and physically active, and were less likely to smoke, than those who stuck to a more traditional diet. That profile differs markedly from the average frequent fast-food consumer in the West, Odegaard noted.

In countries like Singapore, these patrons "are likely doing it to participate in American culture, and it is a status symbol, rather than here, where it is generally out of convenience and cost," he explained. These findings hold serious implications for recently developed and emerging countries, said Sara Bleich, an assistant professor of health policy at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore. "We know (heart disease and diabetes) are very expensive because they are chronic and ongoing," she told Reuters Health.

Research in western populations has linked the most common components of fast foods - meats, saturated fats and refined carbs - with direct heart risks and indirect health threats like weight gain, which can lead to type 2 diabetes, Odegaard's team points out. Those past findings and the new results suggest that public health officials need to pay "more attention to global behavioral and dietary changes that occur as cultures interact with one another," Odegaard said. "The big multinational fast-food companies are increasingly looking to maximize profit outside the United States, and they're looking to emerging economies like Singapore to do that," Bleich told Reuters Health. "So at the global level, the health implications are very strong."

Increased Obesity Lifts Health Food Market in Asia

Ralph Jennings of Reuters wrote: Affluence and sedentary lifestyles have brought health problems such as obesity and diabetes to Asia, prompting locals to fill up their shopping carts health food products such as oats, yoghurt and vitamins. "I went to a bookstore and read about it," said B ill Chung, 33, a self-employed Taipei resident who lost six kilograms (13 pounds) over the past two months. "I'm spending a little less and it's all healthy, so I'm on track." [Source: Ralph Jennings, Reuters, July 8, 2009]

”Asia has lagged behind other regions in packaged health foods consumption as the overall diet is relatively healthy with vegetables a main ingredient in many local dishes. Nevertheless, the region's recent economic success has prompted fast food chains to expand outlets across Asia and foods such as ice-cream and chocolates have become popular. Where high calorie junk food goes, health food follows close behind, those in the industry say, predicting solid growth for health products in Asia in the next few years.

"They (health foods) are emerging products," said Lyndsey Anderson, Asia food and drink head for the London-based market forecasting firm Business Monitor. "It hasn't caught on as quickly in the developing world. People traditionally have healthier diets anyway. The need to pay for packaged health foods isn't there. The region is lagging the rest of the world in that regard," Anderson said. "In terms of transitioning, that is completely turning around," she said, adding that she expected to see steady growth in this high-priced food sector from the end of 2010 or in early 2011 as the regional economy improves.

”Health foods already make up roughly 5 percent of product lines sold by food companies in Asia, she said. The market for functional foods, which range from flaxseed, wheatgerm and soy-based products to probiotic yoghurt, is worth about $20 billion a year in Asia, including Japan, Anderson said. In addition to standard health foods, the supplements industry, which includes vitamins and protein mixes, was worth about $14 billion in Asia in 2006, not including Japan, according to estimates by the research firm DataMonitor. "In Asia, as people are getting more and more affluent, the health food market is certainly on the rise," said Shirley Ivarsson, a dietician in Hong Kong.

"We've moved away from traditional agrarian values," said Ted Ning, executive director of Lifestyles of Health and Sustainability, a U.S.-based consumer movement. "Consumers are increasingly seeking quick fixes to address health needs as they grow increasingly tired due to demands of work," the company said in a statement.

Types of Health Food Products in Asia

Ralph Jennings of Reuters wrote: “Jostling for space on supermarket shelves in cities from Shanghai to Singapore are local health products such as root powders, herbal teas and variations of chicken soup, a favourite elixir among ethnic Chinese. Singapore-based Cerebos Pacific (CERE.SI), which makes bottled Essence of Chicken, saw 33 percent profit growth from 2004 to 2008. [Source: Ralph Jennings, Reuters, July 8, 2009]

”The drinks market has gone healthy with Coca-Cola Co introducing a new bottled spring water in Japan last month after expanding its product lines in Hong Kong with drinks flavoured with preserved almonds, jujubes and pears. PepsiCo launched SoBe beverages, a range that included fortified teas, fruit drinks and energy drinks in India. Nestle was the first to introduce probiotic yogurt in India in 2007, while Tata Tea, India's top tea company, recently introduced a series of cold drinks with tea, fruit and ginseng.

:”It's not always easy to convince consumers that a specialised food can help them, said Charu Harish, who does publicity in Hong Kong and Malaysia for GlaxoSmithKline's (GSK.L) Horlicks milk-and-wheat drink and Ribena fruit drinks. "It's not about a soft sell," Harish said. "Health and well being are the first things people in Asia think of. We are trying to market our products with as much transparency as possible."

”For this reason, companies go to great lengths to emphasise the health properties of their products when targeting consumers in Asia.In its marketing campaigns in the region, the Almond Board of California, which represents 6,000 growers, has stressed that its nuts contain anti-oxidants and protein. As a result, the board saw 24 percent growth from 2006 to 2008, with its members earning $486 million in 2008 from sales in four Asian countries, including China and India, said chief marketing officer Shirley Horn.

”Consumers associate health food with better quality, a sensitive issue in the wake of a string of China-produced food scandals which resulted in supermarkets across the region removing items with chemicals such as melamine from shelves. Reflecting the food safety concerns of many consumers in Asia, Wanpen Thongsri, 49, a company executive in Thailand where health food popularity has grown exponentially, said that she is willing to pay a premium for health foods. "Frankly, I don't know if I can feel safe with all brands. But I'm willing to pay more for good health," she said.”

Image Sources: Wikimedia Commons

Text Sources: New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Times of London, The Guardian, National Geographic, The New Yorker, Time, Newsweek, Reuters, AP, AFP, Wall Street Journal, The Atlantic Monthly, The Economist, Global Viewpoint (Christian Science Monitor), Foreign Policy, Wikipedia, BBC, CNN, NBC News, Fox News and various books and other publications.

Last updated November 2012

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