Despite the continued slowdown in the economy, Vietnam’s nutrition industry saw robust growth in the last 12 months, with local consumers still rating health as a major concern behind the economy and job security, according to a recent report from market research company Nielsen.

The findings were released at a Nielsen’s Health and Nutrition Forum last week in HCM City .

The slowdown in the Vietnamese economy, with continued sluggishness in the real estate and banking market, has spread into 2013 and is still affecting certain industries.

Despite the efforts from the Government, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has recently revised Vietnam growth numbers from 5.8 percent to 5.2 percent for 2013.

According to Nielse, in spite of the softer economic numbers, certain categories perceived as healthy or nutritious by consumers were seeing double digit growth.

The total Fast-Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG) category, excluding beer, has seen 11 percent volume and 15 percent sales growth over a one-year period.

Growth in volume and sales of milk-based products has reached 19-22 percent, respectively, compared with a year ago.

Vanghan Ryan, Management Director of Nielsen Vietnam , said in a press release that strong numbers indicated the growth importance of health conscious consumption, even in tougher economic times.

He said the Vietnamese had a simple perception of healthy food, with 94 percent agreeing that it should be safe or hygienic, along with 91 percent stating it should be fresh.

Consumers perceive healthy food as products such as liquid milk (90 percent), low-cholesterol oil (73 percent), and organic food (63 percent), along with a few other dairy products, Ryan said.

According to Nielsen findings, information about sufficient nutritional ingredients is a driver in achieving brand salience in Vietnam .

The key factors considered when purchasing healthy food are sufficient nutritional ingredients (36 percent), reduced risk of disease (25 percent) and affordability (23 percent), followed by other minor factors.

Trust is at the core of driving any engagement and success when it comes to health and nutritional in Vietnam.-VNA