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Wing Lau, Consulting Manager of the Food and Animal Nutrition recruitment desk at Morgan Philips Executive Search Hong Kong, shares her insights on the APAC region’s changing hiring and consumer preferences in this fast paced industry.

Shifting consumer demand

It’s clear that there’s a shift in market and consumer trends. Consumers are, for example, more aware of the source of ingredients and raw materials, and the industry’s demand for PhD professionals is becoming more prevalent. The appetite of the Chinese audience has always been surrounded by starches and related carbohydrates, but in recent years, it is visible that consumers have become increasingly health conscious.

With easier access to social media and more information being published on the internet, the origins of ingredients and raw materials are becoming more transparent. Competition within the industry is getting higher and organizations are seeking innovative ways to stay ahead in the game. This can be seen with more R&D in the likes of probiotics and plant-based ingredients.

Local players are growing and becoming more integrated, creating their own raw materials, which in turn creates a challenge for food ingredient suppliers – why would they need suppliers if they can invent and manufacture themselves? Consequently, what new ideas can these food ingredients suppliers create to better position themselves whilst meeting market demands?

Different candidate requirements

The need for PhD professionals is additionally becoming more important than before, despite the shortage of talents available. The technical expertise that this type of candidate offers comes at a timely interval in which consumers place extra scrutiny on the credibility of the products they buy.

In particular, Chinese oversea professionals are predominantly well sought after in the market. Local players, such as Yili, New Hope, Fei He and even Cargill offer attractive retained packages despite the limited industry working experience. At the same time, multilingual talents from Taiwan, Malaysia, Singapore and other Chinese speaking countries are also welcomed for certain high tech-barrier function.

The rise of new emerging markets such as Alibaba and Jing Dong has created an even more competitive landscape in the Chinese market. These large corporations penetrate through the industry by utilizing their big data and artificial intelligence advantages.

When there is an imbalance between supply and demand of candidates, we encourage clients to consider alternatives when looking to hire. In this case, that could mean exploring hiring opportunities in B2B and B2C industries, considering relocating talents from outside of China, hiring alternative technical category expertise, or bringing in high-potential young talent to develop through enhanced succession planning.

For any hiring needs or guidance in your career move in Hong Kong, please don’t hesitate to get in contact with Wing Lau by sending her an email.

Similarly, for any Mainland China talent solutions, our consultant Roy Wu is also available via email.
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