Ethnic cuisine expected to take-off.
According to a recent report from Mintel, the market intelligence agency, ethnic cuisine, defined as cuisines outside Europe, Russia, Australasia and North America, is set for healthy growth over the next 5 years.
The agency forecast the market to be worth £4.8 bill by 2019, from £4.2 bill currently. The reason for the improvement is down to a combination of factors. These include the forecast increase in real wages, the planned roll out of large regional chains such as Wagamama, Yo! Sushi and Chiquito, as well as the growth of online ordering and delivery operators such as Just Eat and Deliveroo. The sector also benefits from consumers perceptions of healthiness, with only 14% of those surveyed saying that they regarded a range of ethnic cuisine as unhealthy.
But it isn’t all good news. The survey also revealed that only a fifth (22%) of people thought that takeaways/home deliveries offered authentic cuisine, as compared to 34% of those who dined-in. Furthermore, of those that dined-in, only a third saw their meals as being fresh.
So the question becomes, what can be done to improve these negative perceptions, and drive sales further?
The answer, according to Mintel, is a combination of open kitchens for dine-in restaurants, better packaging for takeaways, and brand awareness. For example, Busaba Eathai are opening a Busaba Cook Thai development kitchen in Shoreditch. This will act as a training kitchen for their chefs during the week but will be open to the public for cooking classes on the weekend. Such schools are seen as being a way to bolster a brand’s image of authority and give them a sense of transparency and point of difference in the market.
For takeaways, packaging can be improved to overcome issues of it failing to be considered ‘special’. One example of improved packaging is that of Brighton Indian restaurant The Chilli Pickle. Their takeaways are delivered in a pizza box-style cardboard box, which has cut-out holes for each element of the meal in its own individual pot or bowl.
Richard Ford, Senior Food and Drink Analyst at Mintel says of the findings “The ethnic restaurant/takeaway market holds real potential, with London continuing to spawn new and unusual types of cuisine and acting as an incubation hub for new operators before they move into the regions.
Whilst growth has been sluggish in the recent years of austerity, the falling price of crude oil and corresponding lower energy and petrol prices and rise in real incomes should benefit the market.
The rapid expansion of online ordering and delivery services such as Just Eat, Hungry House and Deliveroo will continue to bring challenges for operators, by increasing competition. However, it should also benefit the market by opening up new revenue streams for, for example, restaurants not currently providing a takeaway/home delivery service and boosting the visibility of operators.
Whilst eat-in restaurants and takeaways are both forecast to see faster sales growth going forward than since 2009, the latter is likely to grow at a faster rate, as the macro trend towards convenience continues and ordering sites, discussed above, make it easier to eat at home.
Both sectors of the market do, however, face challenges which must be addressed if operators are to maximise the potential opportunities open to them. For example, the takeaway sector falls down on authenticity as well as being seen as ‘special’ whereas the eat-in sector fails on convenience and in being seen to offer value for money. Meanwhile, consumers have low perceptions of freshness for both sectors, constituting a particular blow for the eat-in sector.
Open kitchens, at-table preparation and special menus to celebrate religious/ cultural events can all help bring a much-needed splash of colour to the eat-in sector as well as signalling authenticity and creating more ‘theatre’ to the dine- in experience.
Meanwhile, colourful/functional packaging format and design as well as building the connection between the at-home takeaway dining experience and the restaurant kitchen should help improve the image of the takeaway/home delivery sector in users’ eyes”.
Mintel is the world's leading market intelligence agency. For over 40 years, Mintel's expert analysis of the highest quality data and market research has directly impacted on client success. With offices in London, Chicago, Belfast, Kuala Lumpur, Mumbai, Munich, New York, Sao Paolo, Shanghai, Singapore, Sydney, Tokyo and Toronto, Mintel has forged a unique reputation as a world-renowned business brand. For more information on Mintel, please visit www.mintel.com.
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