With Chinese New Year 2018 coming up fast on February 16, it’s time once again for The Grocery Trader’s World Foods feature. Confirming our growing love of food from across Southeast Asia, the latest Oriental Food Trends Report from Wing Yip, Britain’s leading Oriental food grocer, shows Chinese is still the UK’s favourite Oriental food.
Despite the mouthwatering mix of cuisines on offer here these days and our chopping and changing palates a whopping 94% of British adults have eaten Chinese food in their lifetime. Or, to put it another way, only 6% of British adults have yet to do so! Around 4 in 10 of us have an Oriental takeaway of some sort once a month, whether it’s Chinese, Thai, Japanese or Indonesian.
While Chinese food remains a firm favourite, Wing Yip’s Report shows UK consumers becoming more adventurous, with the perfect storm of growing interest in home cooking and our love of eating out, with ever more Pan-asian restaurants around to choose from. Wing Yip started out supplying genuine Chinese ingredients and produce to restaurants but now they also provide a growing array of food products and authentic ingredients from across South-East Asia.
To fully understand the scope of the market for world food, you only have to think about the number of non-native languages spoken here, over 300. More than half a million people now speak Polish as their first language, ahead of more established languages like Punjabi and Urdu and behind only English and Welsh. Yet Polish food has still to cross into the mainstream like Chinese or Indian.
In Mintel’s understanding, how easily food manufacturers and restaurants can translate particular ethnic dishes into ready meals and takeaway products is key to how easily those cuisines can crack the UK market. South Asian and Mexican are doing well enough, but have work to do to catch up with Oriental.
Caribbean is another part of the UK ethnic foods market which is increasing in importance and crossing further into the mainstream every year. Grace Foods UK is Britain’s leading supplier of authentic Caribbean food and drink and continues to gain ground, helping growing numbers of consumers expand their taste horizons and enjoy new and exotic flavours. A key part of Grace’s mission in the UK is its support for Caribbean Food Week, which celebrated its sixth year this August and has become our biggest celebration of Caribbean food and drink for retailers and consumers.