American Companies May Experience Fierce R&D Competition From Asia

Western-origin brands were found to be leading Asia-based products in terms of research and development, according to joint findings by Global Intelligence Alliance Group (GIA) and analyst Fusion Consulting.

Western-origin brands were found to be leading Asia-based products in terms of research and development, according to joint findings by Global Intelligence Alliance Group (GIA) and analyst Fusion Consulting.

The groups tracked 20 multinational food and drink companies.

Although the research found companies like Nestle or Danone to be more advanced in pushing innovative products that rivals such as Yakult, there was still strong potential for certain Asian products.

“There are very strong Asian companies in the food and beverage industry that can compete with Western European and US-based multinationals,” stated a Fusion spokesperson. “In fact, in some domains like probiotic drinks and instant noodles, Asian companies are way ahead than their European or US-based competitors.”

In looking at the findings, which were conducted between 2004 and 2007, the consultancy group said that Asia-based companies were in an increasingly strong position to follow the lead of their western counterparts and look to international markets to expand.

In the same way that more Westernized companies had worked to distribute and establish their products in Asia, manufacturers in the region were well positioned to increasingly bring their goods to Europe and the US, according to the analyst.

Fusion Consultancy said that in order to successfully meet seemingly growing Western demand in Asian food and drink products, customizing products and brand identity to meet local tastes was a key challenge.

“The challenge on doing this is always the same: customization,” stated the analyst. “Some companies are very good at it like Unilever, Nestle and Kraft.”

The GIA index, that focused on three dimensions – innovation, regional presence and revenue performance – claims that Anglo-Dutch firm Unilever performed “best in class” thanks to efforts to appoint chefs and food experts in 18 key markets to research and develop new products customized to the local needs and preferences.