The British population can be rightly proud of its heritage of continuing a long-held tradition of welcoming immigrants to the UK from across the world. As those immigrants have settled everyday facets of their lives, including food, have become an integrated part of British life as well.
Today, Chicken Tikka Massala is the most popular dish in the UK, overtaking the traditional British roast dinner. But let’s think forward a few years and consider whether, for instance, in the light of the current increase in Polish immigrants, whether Chicken Tikka Massala is going to hold onto its crown or be replaced by something else.
Drivers of World Food
Mintel research suggests that there are five drivers to this category in the UK, these are:
l Second generation immigrants wanting to re-create recipes from their parents home country into their daily diets
l Religious requirements – Halal or Kosher are good examples
l New immigrants coming into the country who initially search for products or ingredients they recognise from home, such as the current increase in sales of Polish products
l Foreign holidays increasing consumer awareness of different cuisines
l Celebrity chefs who popularise different cuisines in their books and TV programmes.
In 2004, 600,000 new immigrants entered the UK from the eight new EU members. Of those 62% were Polish and 82% were between the ages of 18 and 34 years.
With these facts it’s not surprising that the availability of Polish food in retail shops up and down the country increased dramatically, but this is a windfall opportunity and wholesalers and retailers must take great care entering this market. These new immigrants are not in general directed to eat certain foods on the basis of religion, and they are young and susceptible to try the wide range of other cuisines we have available in this country. Also, they are likely to return home to Poland at some stage.
Of the five drivers only religious requirement is a constant. The rest will move and sway like the latest fashion accessory. So let’s give a little more information first about the size of the ‘religious requirement’ opportunity before looking at ways in which we can forecast the future trends that are brought about by the other drivers.
There are more than 3.2 million Muslims in the UK and this compares to only 1.9 million vegetarians, so consider how much space in either your warehouse or on your menu you give to vegetarian food versus Halal food. Every menu in the UK now proudly points out a vegetarian alternative but rarely identifies products that are suitable for Halal or Kosher consumers. The great thing about Halal or Kosher food is that is does not hold appeal simply to Muslims or Jews as some of the cuisine is ideally placed to also appeal to vegetarians thus further increasing its potential.
Muslims represent 3.2% of the UK population but are responsible for 11% of the UK’s meat consumption. Are you getting your share of this market? And before you dismiss this market as an opportunity not for you, it’s worth recognising that Mintel predicts that by 2014 Muslims will be the largest religious group in Europe so this is a cuisine where demand is set to grow and grow.
Spotting the Next Opportunity
The foodservice market used to lead the development of new cuisines in the UK. Pizza’s, Indian food, Chinese and Mexican food were all first sampled by consumers in restaurants up and down the country well before pre-packed alternatives appeared in the supermarkets.
Today, however, things have moved on. All of the major supermarkets study the new food trends and are quick to spot the emerging cuisines. Marks Spencer and Tesco in particular are good at this.
However, Mintel can also help us, and it reports startling increases in retail sales (see table).
These increases help us identify what we will be eating in the future. Couple this solid information with a quick study of the popular holiday destinations in a given year and what the celebrity chefs are offering as recipe ideas in their magazine articles and TV programmes and you can quickly not just stay ahead of the trend but be seen as a trendsetter yourself.
Using ‘World Foods’ to grow your business
Offering ‘World Food’ alternatives in your range or menu offer has benefits far beyond simply being seen as a trendsetter. Some studies show that for every pound;1 a new customer spends on World Foods in a store or wholesaler they will spend a further pound;15 on the current range.
So World Foods becomes a viable traffic building strategy for any business and with carefully targeted advertising, and a tight but clearly defined range it really can offer a business a significant source of new income.
=== Cuisine Retail Sales Change 2000 to 2004 ===
South East Asia 128%
Afican, Korean, South American 172%