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Many carbohydrate-based categories continue to experience reduced consumption as consumers observe low-carb or gluten-free diets. Pasta in particular has fallen victim to this trend. This has led to a spate of better-for-you pasta launches that include wholegrains, legumes, gluten-free ingredients and vegetables. Such innovation has not been enough to reverse the trend and major markets have seen low and negative growth.

The pasta category has seen an unshackling of Italian tradition with global market leader, Barilla launching several game-changing innovations. No-drain pasta, developed for China and also launched in the US, turns the time-honoured preparation method for al dente pasta upside down. Cucina Barilla provides yet another futuristic means of meal preparation with the development of an oven that cooks dry pasta. There has also been an uptick in launches of three minute, quick cook pasta as brands look to convenience as a means of getting back into meal-time repertoires.

Dry white rice continues to dominate that category on account of its low price and versatility. The main areas of innovation continue to be in convenience and health, often seen together. Convenient rice offerings in the form of precooked, quick cook and flavoured offerings continue to drive value growth in the category. Grains particularly are playing a major role in this, these ancient grain super-foods partnering with and elevating the appeal and health value to this everyday pantry staple.

Instant noodle consumption continues to grow in parts of Asia, however, particularly in northern Asia, high consumption markets are facing slowing growth and an ageing population. The category also suffers from an unhealthy image. While this has been addressed through the use of real food ingredients and a strong cuisine focus, several key launches are highlighting better-for-you attributes such as high vegetable and low carb content.

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