Ethnic Food Sales On The Upswing In Supermarkets
Harry Balzer, vice president of NPD, cites the tortilla as an example of why this is so. About 42 percent of U.S. households have tortillas in their refrigerator, he says--yet only 14 percent of households are Hispanic. "It's another kind of bread [to non-Hispanics]. [Americans] love to try new things."
Indeed, AC Nielsen says tortillas remain the most popular product. Sales rose four straight years, and culminated in a 4.3 percent climb to $1 billion in the 2006 period. Mexican salsas and sauces ran a close second at $945 million--up 2.8 percent from last year. The largest contributor to Asian sales continues to be one-food frozen entrees, which edged down by 1.6 percent to $379 million in the latest 52 weeks, said the market researcher.
Further, says AC Nielsen, the two-food frozen entrée segment in the Asian category has doubled in size since 2002--up 21 percent to almost $88 million last year alone. In the Mexican category, the same segment was up 36 percent, to $30 million over the earlier year.
According to AC Nielsen, Asian and Hispanic populations are the fastest-growing U.S. ethnic groups and constitute the biggest drivers of ethnic food retail sales. U.S. Census Bureau data reveals that there are currently 14 million Asians and 41.3 million Hispanics living in the U.S. Asians are forecast to account for 8 percent and Hispanics 24 percent of the nation's 394 million population by 2050.
Still, says NPD's Balzer, all ethnic foods have to move beyond the base population group to have a significant impact as a mass-market product. "The question is," he says. "Does it penetrate the base group?"