Dried rice as a category may be suffering at the hands of more convenient formats but smaller ethnic brands are enjoying a boom as the multiples look to capitalise on growing consumer demand for world foods.

Until recently the domain of specialist ethnic retailers, supermarkets such as Asda and Tesco are now stocking authentic Asian rice in the bulk formats favoured by ethnic consumers.

Last August, Asda's Hounslow supermarket was turned into a flagship 'ethnic' store, where as much as a fifth of the retail space is dedicated to specialist foods for Asian, Mediterranean, Afro-Caribbean, Polish and even Irish customers.

Sales of Veetee's Badshah brand have more than doubled to £3.1m in the past 12 months thanks to some attractive supermarket deals on bulk 5kg and 10kg bags. In many instances, Badshah is selling at the equivalent of £1/kg compared with an average selling price of around £1.70/kg.

"The Pakistani rice segment has grown quite strongly because of the recession in the economy, so people are shifting towards a more economical product," says Veetee chief executive Vikas Magoon. "On the back of that, Badshah and Rozana have done extremely well."

Magoon believes the retailers are right to dedicate extra space to ethnic foods. "The first generation of ethnic communities wants to shop at the local independent but the second and third generation want to shop at the major retailers," he says. Veetee's ethnic rice brands are not the only ones making waves. Laila, Apna and Trophy all enjoyed stellar sales growth in the past year.

"Demand for ethnic is growing at a phenomenal pace," says Aamir Allibhoy, communications manager for Trophy brand owner Kohinoor Foods UK. "As a result we'll continue to see more ethnic offerings in the world food aisles of mainstream retailers."

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