Welcome to the Ethnic Food & Drink feature. In this issue we hear from Wing Yip, the UK’s leading Oriental food grocer, whose latest Oriental Food Trends Report confirms our continually growing love of food from across Southeast Asia.
Wing Yip’s survey shows Chinese is still the UK’s number one favourite Oriental food. Despite changing palates and the diverse mix of cuisines now available in the UK, a whopping 94% of British adults have eaten Chinese food in their lifetime and around 4 in 10 have an Oriental takeway of some sort once a month, be it Chinese, Thai, Japanese or Indonesian.
While Chinese food remains a firm favourite, Wing Yip’s Report shows UK consumers becoming more adventurous in their tastes, both in eating out, with more Pan-asian restaurants to choose from and the growth in shopping for home cooking. Wing Yip started out supplying genuine Chinese ingredients and produce to restaurants but now also provides an expanding range of authentic ingredients and food products from across South-East Asia.
To get a handle on the overall UK market for ethnic food, you could start by looking at the number of onnative languages spoken here, more than 300 at the last census. More than half a million people here now speak Polish as their first language, ahead of more established languages Punjabi and Urdu and behind only official languages English and Welsh. Yet Polish food has yet to make any kind of crossover into the mainstream.
In Mintel’s reading, the ease with which food manufacturers and restaurants are able to translate particular ethnic dishes into ready meal and takeaway formats is the key to those cuisines’ ability to endure in the UK market. Polish food has not yet crossed beyond the Polish and Eastern European community. 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 that is increasing in importance and crossing further over 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 the UK’s biggest celebration of Caribbean food and drink for retailers and consumers.