Lately, there has been a marketing trend in the Malaysian F&B scene of combining two products to create a new way to enjoy them or to produce an entire new product out of two popular products. The most recent example is the Nestle Bestnya Kawan activity, which encourages Maggi instant noodle consumers to combine Maggi Curry with Maggi Asam Laksa. The end result is an instant noodle that combines the taste of curry and asam laksa.
Nestle is really good at coming up with such combo product. It single-handedly created a new category called Neslo, which is Nescafe + Milo. Now, Nestle is challenging consumers to come up new ideas to kawan (befriending) or pairing Nestle products.
It will be interesting to see what food pairing will come out from the consumers. A visit to the hypermarket especially to the table sauce section will show combining different ingredients is now a key driver in new product development for sauces. Interesting examples include tomato sauce + chilli sauce and the chilli + lime.
However, there are ingredients that cannot be eaten together. In traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) philosophy, eating crab together with eggplant is bad for the stomach. Other examples of big no-nos are fruit juice + prawn (diarrhea) and baijiu (Chinese white wine) and carrot (liver intoxication).
For Indian consumers, eggplant and crab may not necessarily bad for health since there is an example of a South Indian curry eggplant crab dish. So, the rules for proper food combining can be seen as cultural. Food innovators may need to take TCM principles into account if they were to target Chinese consumers.