The World Food category is endlessly shifting and changing, according to a recent report from Wing Yip, giving cash and carries and delivered wholesalers a wealth of opportunities to work with importers and build niche markets.
Meanwhile one major world food market going from strength to strength in the UK is Caribbean food. Leading supplier Grace Foods is rolling out a raft of trade and consumer initiatives this month to make this year’s Caribbean Food Week the biggest and best yet, including the first Caribbean Food Week Food Festival at Windrush Square in Brixton.
A major influence on trends in World Food demand is migration into the UK and the wishes of the new arrivals to enjoy the foods they know from home. As communities from different countries grow, so does demand for these products from the settling populations and more adventurous Brits who explore these cuisines, prompted by chefs and cookery writers.
In recent years Polish food has been a highly visible new category in the UK: the wider Asian and African food markets have grown steadily but less dramatically, although according to one company we spoke to, Sri Lanka is one particular area growing in popularity. Long haul holidays are a key factor driving demand among mainstream Brits discovering this part of South Asia: according to Brian Yip, Director of the UK’s leading Oriental food grocer, the other factor is the explosion in the number of pan-Asian restaurants popping all over the UK in recent years.
Earlier in 2016 Wing Yip commissioned their first Oriental Food Report, a comprehensive study of the growing influence of Chinese and Southeast Asian cuisines.
The report found that restaurants, especially those in and around London, are driving consumption of the cuisine, with 70-80% of those who eat Asian food doing so in a restaurant.
Brian Yip says: “We think this is critical to the success of the market, because most people do not cook this style of cuisine at home. Similarly, 94% of people have eaten Chinese food from a takeaway or in a restaurant, but very few had eaten the cuisine in a pub setting. This could be a huge opportunity for the pub trade.”
Across the board, shelf space is increasingly being made for delicacies from around the globe. Brian Yip mentions Korean food as making particularly positive traction in foodservice, while Vietnamese is becoming more mainstream and Asian street food is fast gaining momentum. His advice is clear:
“To be successful in the sector, it is crucial to have a thorough understanding of the market and be able to evolve and follow new food trends as chefs and caterers call for increasingly diverse ingredients.”