The Asia Pacific Chia seed market is projected to register a CAGR of 3.2% during the forecast period 2020-2025. Chia seeds do not follow the commoditization trend, as the market is still small, where supply is unstable, and there is a lack of awareness of the high-quality standards demanded by large industries. However, as more consumers are now aware of chia seeds and their benefits, the market is likely to witness tremendous growth in the near future. The increased demand for nutritional ancient grains and multi-cereal-based products as functional foods are driving the demand for chia seeds. Chia seeds are gluten-free and have high protein content. The gluten-free property of chia seeds is expected to create a strong demand among consumers suffering from gluten intolerance (celiac disease), or those who simply avoid gluten because of their lifestyle choices.

Key Market Trends

Growing Awareness about the Chia seeds

Chia seeds contain a good amount of calcium, magnesium, and potassium, and are believed to boost energy, stabilize blood sugar, and help with digestion. A key factor in the sale of “superfoods”, including chia seeds’ is the availability and accessibility of supermarkets, as compared to traditional grocery stores and convenience stores. The popularity of “Super” ingredients has increased significantly over the recent past, with product launches, as consumers are more inclined toward natural and wholesome ingredients. These products have superior nutritional value as they are rich sources of polyphenols, antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals. The market is driven by consumer preference towards functional and health-based naturally derived products. However, with time, plant sources of omega-3 EFAs, such as chia seed, are gaining popularity, owing to its easy corporation in the convenience and functional foods and its neutral taste. All these factors are expected to contribute to the growth of the market. High returns, lower cultivation costs, water consumption, and a short duration of 90 days, largely untouched by pests and animals are the primary reasons farmers have taken an interest in both white and black chia seeds.

Increasing Demand for Vegan Protein Based Food

Chia seeds are significant for the future of the agricultural industry, in terms of providing a vitamin-rich source of vegan protein. They are a rich source of fiber and have a high content of omega-3 fatty acids. Increasing consumer awareness about the importance of omega-3 fatty acids in the Asia Pacific region is increasing the demand for chia seeds. Furthermore, chia seeds are gaining popularity among vegetarians in the Asia Pacific region, as it is very difficult to find omega-3 fatty acids in plant-based diets. Its high protein content helps in muscle recovery after physical exertion. Hence, the preference for chia seeds among vegetarians and vegans has increased significantly. The human consumption of omega-6 fatty acids is usually high, but it is essential to maintain the ratio of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids in the body. Therefore, chia seeds act as a source of omega-3 fatty acids for vegetarians, by providing protein content that is almost equal to egg protein. The Mysuru-based Central Food Technological Research Institute (CFTRI) has developed ready-to-eat foods from Chia and as they have the unique ability to “gel” when added to wet ingredients, and work particularly well as vegan-friendly replacements for eggs or gelatin, in certain recipes. Hence all these factors contribute towards increasing demand for Chia seeds in the region.

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