The ethnic food market has continued to grow in the latest year. As consumers broaden their horizons with travel and the number of ethnic restaurants expands, demand for more diverse flavours is increasing. The top reason for choosing ethnic food is ‘favourite’ (26.4%) and ‘fancied a change’ (18.6%). It is difficult to place a value on the market as it covers a wide range of categories within the supermarket, ranging from ready meals to ingredients for home cooking. However, the ethnic foods market is estimated to be in excess of £1bn per annum and growing at 3% year-on-year.
Ethnic ready meals and meal accompaniments, comprising Indian, Chinese, Thai and Mexican, is worth about £474m, representing 25% of the total chilled ready meal category. Annually, more than half of the population purchase an ethnic ready meal an average of six times a year. Ethnic foods are predominantly consumed on a weekend with 15.8% eaten on a Friday and 19.2% on a Saturday. More than 70% of ethnic foods are consumed as an evening meal.
The fastest growing ethnic categories are soy sauces, pitta bread and rice. Soy sauces grew 15% in spend year-on-year, driven by more people buying into the category and inflated prices. Amoy, the leading soy sauce brand, has performed strongly in the latest year. Tesco and Sainsbury have shown excellent performances, growing at 48% and 34% in spend respectively.
Pitta bread grew 23%, driven by more people buying into the category and buying more often than in the previous year. Tesco leads with a 28% share and Sainsbury follows with 23%.
Rice is another category that has performed well, growing at 7% in value. Compared with the previous year, more people bought rice more frequently - 38% of all ethnic foods are consumed with rice. Uncle Ben’s, the biggest rice brand, has seen significant growth.
Eda Acanal, TNS Superpanel
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