Caribbean, Japanese, Thai new products increase

by Jeff Gelski
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CHICAGO — Consumers have more options among Caribbean, Japanese and Thai products, according to recent findings from Mintel’s Global New Products Database. New food items that contained “Caribbean” in the product description increased 150% from 2009 to 2010 while the number of “Japanese” product launches rose 230% and the number of “Thai” product launches rose 68%.

“Italian, Mexican and Asian cuisine are the more mainstream, popular ethnic cuisines,” said David Lockwood, senior analyst at Chicago-based Mintel. “But Thai, Caribbean and Japanese foods are seeing healthy growth, and consumers seem to be getting more comfortable with a wider variety of ethnic flavors.”

Twenty-six per cent of ethnic food lovers said they were introduced to cuisine by television programs, newspapers or magazines that feature cuisine from other countries while 23% said reading cookbooks that include recipes for dishes popular in other countries influenced them. Also, 18% said they developed a taste for ethnic food by traveling abroad, and 25% said living in a diverse neighborhood where ethnic food and ingredients are readily available influenced them.

“In keeping with Mintel’s ‘professionalization of the amateur’ C.P.G. (consumer packaged goods) trend, consumers are becoming more interested in trying out complicated ethnic dishes at home that would usually be prepared by a chef in a restaurant,” Mr. Lockwood said. “Cooking programs, culinary magazines and recipe web sites are an easy way to get more comfortable with ethnic food ingredients.”

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