“The ethnic food category has had a very strong performance during the recession, followed by a still positive but slightly lower growth trend, likely driven by a return to restaurants. However, the category is forecast to grow in the future due to its heightened popularity,” says John N. Frank, category manager, CPG food & drink at Mintel. “As Americans, especially younger people, have palates that are becoming more adventurous and sophisticated, they are also eager to explore lesser-known cuisines with unique flavor combinations.”
The ethnic food category experienced solid yearly sales performance, especially during the recession, with an overall growth of 12% from 2007-09; this performance was likely driven by a migration from restaurant eating to increased food store purchases for at-home dining due to restricted budgets. However, starting in 2010, sales have increased by only 4.5% from 2010-12, a much lower rate than what has been seen during the recession. Nevertheless, according to Mintel the ethnic food market is forecast to grow by 20.3% from 2012-17, likely driven by continued consumer interest and more focused product development.
While households with children continue to over index on consumption of all types of ethnic food prepared at home, Hispanic food is the most popular, with 72% of respondents from households with children preparing this cuisine at home in the past month compared to only 50% of those without children.
In addition, Hispanic food is the most popular with all home cooks as 58% say they prepared it within the last month versus 55% who have whipped up Italian fare and 44% who have gone for Asian food.
“The popularity of Hispanic food is likely due to how mainstream it has become in the U.S. and the ease and convenience of preparing it,” adds John N. Frank. “The endless supply of Mexican, Cuban and other Hispanic-based restaurants have given home cooks infinite possibilities for re-creating these restaurant-style meals at home.”