Fonterra Food Trends and Innovation in 2018

Cheese Sang | Fonterra | Food For Thought

With the prolific use of cheese in everyday cooking, it is no wonder than a brand like Fonterra, one of the world’s leading producers of dairy products is at the forefront of innovation. To find out more about consumer trends and behaviour, we speak to Linda Tan of Fonterra Brands Malaysia and Chef Pele Kuah of Movida Group at the media round table hosted by Fonterra Brands Malaysia to discuss how global and local food trends have been progressing and how habits differ from millennials compared to their peers.

Linda Tan is Foodservice Director of Fonterra Brands Malaysia

Chef Pele Kuah, Deputy President of Professional Chefs Association of Malaysia and Group Executive Chef of Movida Group

There are many brands that Fonterra carry, such as Anchor, Anchor Food Professionals, Anmum, Anlene and Fernleaf, just to name a few. These brands specialise in New Zealand dairy products, supplying to Malaysian bakeries such as Secret Recipe, O’Briens and Lavender, restaurants such as Movida, Alexis, Tony Roma’s, Sushi King and Mr.Dak, as well as hotels like Grand Hyatt, Shangri-La, and Pullman. In essence, we have probably consumed many Fonterra products without realising.


Global Food Trends

Food trends have been for the longest time been adopted from outside Asia, with items such as burgers, pizza, croissant and doughnuts being examples of this. In years past, we have seen many of these classical items taken to a whole new level with the addition of cronuts, poke bowls, flambé chicken, with flammable food being a trend that is hot right now. A convenient delivery service is also another element that is expected to reach a more and more demanding market.

Bak Kut Teh | Fonterra | Food For Thought

Local Food Trends

As for local food trends, Asia is becoming quite the influence. Fonterra identified 4 main trends, with the first food trend being the explosion of the middle class (seen with the ability to spend USD10 upwards on a meal). The spending power in Asia has also significantly increased, causing a higher demand in premium products. This is seen in the evolution of commercial tea culture in Asia, with its birth being the bubble tea, evolving into tea lattes, cream topping, cheese topping and flavoured toppings such as avocado cream. We also see the evolution of Japanese inspired French pastries with unique flavours such as wasabi pineapple, miso chocolate and melon citrus.

Acai Bowl | Fonterra | Food For Thought

The second food trend observed is that people have become more nutrition and health conscious. People have turned eating greenery and healthier with salad bars sprouting all over. One noticeable move is that people have reverted to using butter over margarine, with people avoiding the latter because of its high levels of trans fats. But all in all, with either, it should always be taken sparingly because too much of anything is never a good thing.

Fruit Tea | Fonterra | Food For Thought

The third food trend observed is the overindulgence culture. This is seen with grab and go and snacking culture, where people eat more constantly. This has caused an explosion of convenient food, such as bubble tea, coffees and pastries. Flavoured teas, Japanese cheese cakes and tarts, and milkshakes are just some examples of this.

Sesame Cream Cheese Prosperity Balls | Fonterra | Food For Thought

The fourth food trend observed is innovation and customisation, and this is seen in products under the Pizzart campaign by Anchor. These include the like of cheese boats, pizza burgers, and cream cheese sesame rice balls. These dishes are highly customised to cater to an increasing demand of innovative food. There is also a growing demand for elevated local dishes, such as the nasi lemak burger, and salted egg fish skin. For the Chinese New Year, Chef Pele used parmesan cheese to make the Malaysian Chinese delicacy yee sang (魚生) into cheese sang, giving it quite a nice little umami crunch.

Rainbow Donuts | Fonterra | Food For Thought

Millennials vs +35s Consumption Habits

A millennial’s eating habits also differ slightly from the over 35s, with food that are considered trendy include kombucha tea, avocado toast, açai bowls and cronuts. Most importantly, the food has to be instagrammable and snap-chat worthy, with many cafes and restaurants catering to this more and more with picturesque sections of their eateries.

Avocado Toast | Fonterra | Food For Thought

The over 35’s on the other hand, focus more on healthy and nutritious foods, with emphasis on whole foods, super foods and sustainable foods. They want to know where their food is coming from if they’e putting it into their bodies. There is also demand of protein in all forms wither its vegetable or animal, as well as less processed sugar in everything.

Pot Pie | Fonterra | Food For Thought

Food Trends for 2018

Fonterra has predicted the rise of cheese and flavour experimentation in 2018. This can be seen with the explosion of cheese in Korean cuisine, with cheesy Korean fried chicken being very popular lately. For local dishes, there is also the cheesy bak kut the as well as murtabak cheese. There are also helathier options of local dishes, such as nasi lemak being cooked with dairy milk and coconut essence, instead of coconut milk and cream.

For our other food trends article, see Food Trends for  2016 and 2018.


Nicholas Ng

Nicholas Ng is a restaurant critic, travelogue and opinion columnist which is curated on Food For Thought. He has been a freelance writer for 10 years and has previously worked as a lawyer. He currently is the Principal Counsultant of A Thoughtfull Consultancy.


  1. Cheese sang is a thing now. Hahaha. Nice write up Nick. Haven’t heard from you in a while.

  2. Haven’t read your post in a while. Nice update Nick. Really liking the food trend article. Think you’ve not done one in a while. Nice observation about the millennials. 😀

    • Hi Danny,
      All is good mate. Millennials are the ones who are going to save us so lets appreciate them… for now. 😉

  3. Cheesy korean fried chicken is so gooooood! I want more cheese stuff! Wonder what will this year trend be like.

  4. Hi Nicccck! The cheese yuk guat cha sounds so good! Take me there next time I come to KL? :D:D:D

  5. These Malaysian dishes look interesting! You should visit our website to know more about european food.

  6. I’m loving the cheese everything. More of that please. Not a fan in a drink though Nic!

  7. Cheese softserve ice cream will be nice. Had that in Le Tao, Japan. Hopefully available in KL in future.

    • Hi Zharraine,

      Yes. I quite like them. The ones at family mart is actually quite decent.

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