Industry News | March 18, 2013

Younger Americans Remain Key for Ethnic Food Market

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Young Americans and those with children like to spice things up in the kitchen, according to new research from Mintel on the ethnic foods market. Some nine in 10 adults aged 25 to 34 years old say they prepared ethnic food at home in the past month versus only 68 percent of those 65+. In addition, 91 percent of Americans with children under the age of 18 in the home cooked ethnic food compared to 78 percent of those without children. 

“The ethnic food category has had a very strong performance during the recession, followed by a still positive but slightly lower growth trend, likely driven by a return to restaurants. However, the category is forecast to grow in the future due to its heightened popularity,” says John N. Frank, category manager, CPG food & drink at Mintel. “As Americans, especially younger people, have palates that are becoming more adventurous and sophisticated, they are also eager to explore lesser-known cuisines with unique flavor combinations.”
 
The ethnic food category experienced solid yearly sales performance, especially during the recession, with an overall growth of 12 percent from 2007 to 2009; this performance was likely driven by a migration from restaurant eating to increased food store purchases for at-home dining due to restricted budgets. However, starting in 2010, sales have increased by only 4.5 percent from 2010 t0 2012, a much lower rate than what has been seen during the recession. Nevertheless, according to Mintel, the ethnic food market is forecast to grow by 20.3 percent from 2012 to 2017, likely driven by continued consumer interest and more focused product development. 
 
While households with children continue to over index on consumption of all types of ethnic food prepared at home, Hispanic food is the most popular, with 72 percent of respondents from households with children preparing this cuisine at home in the past month compared to only 50 percent of those without children. 
 
In addition, Hispanic food is the most popular with all home cooks as 58 percent say they prepared it within the last month versus 55 percent who have whipped up Italian fare and 44 percent who have gone for Asian food. 
 
“The popularity of Hispanic food is likely due to how mainstream it has become in the U.S. and the ease and convenience of preparing it,” adds John N. Frank. “The endless supply of Mexican, Cuban, and other Hispanic-based restaurants have given home cooks infinite possibilities for re-creating these restaurant-style meals at home.”