It’s January and we’re all getting used to being back in the real world again after the Christmas and New Year celebrations. The lucky few out there can go skiing or take off on a long haul holiday. But for most grocery shoppers with modest means, especially after the expense of Christmas, the nearest they’re likely to get to foreign travel at this time of year is to visit their local grocery store for a taste of world food to brighten their meal times.
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So for multiple grocers, now is the time to make the most of this exciting opportunity. Whatever size of store, there’s always room for something new and exciting in the world foods category. As Anita Winther, Food and Drink Analyst at Mintel says introducing the market research experts’ last report, the core product categories in established global cuisines are struggling for growth, and it’s an open field.

Two giants of UK world foods, Indian and Mexican, enjoyed outstanding and sustained retail growth until just a few years ago. They are of course still enormous in sales terms. But Mintel’s reading is that these long-established cuisines enjoy such broad usage, it leaves little scope to convert new users or secure new occasions. Indian and Mexican are also under pressure from the less wellestablished cuisines, which appeal to foodies’ hunger for new tastes. At the same time, trends in dining out are inspiring people to be bolder in their scratch cooking and putting pressure on makers of ready meals and cooking sauces to keep up.

World food lovers are likely to be foodies and fancy themselves as cooks. With a broad interest in trying new ethnic food, the emerging cuisines are key areas for sales growth and new product development. That said, not knowing what to expect from a particular country’s food is still a barrier for consumers wanting to explore new tastes, and puts the burden on retailers to provide guidance and increase familiarity. Which is where in-store magazines can win the day, with recipes from people who now live here but are originally from different parts of the world, introducing us to what they see as the authentic taste of home.

On another practical point, world foods recipes are likely to call for an array of exotic spices, which local convenience format supermarkets simply don’t have space to keep in stock. For these retail outlets, which are an increasingly important part of the major chains’ offering in urban locations and elsewhere, prepackaged ethnic spice and meal kits offer a means for would-be ‘foodie’ consumers and others to tap into the current scratch cooking trend, while addressing shoppers’ uncertainty about how to prepare ethnic foods.

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