An Indian curry has long been assumed as the nation’s taste of choice when it comes to eating ethnic cuisine. However, a new report from Mintel suggests the nation’s most popular ethnic food is Chinese, beating its nearest rival Indian cuisine by 12%.
In a close finish, Chinese food came out on top as the nation’s overall favourite ethnic food with 83% of Brits saying Chinese was the cuisine they preferred most and Indian food hot on their heels with 71%. In fact, combined Indian and Chinese account for a massive 70% of the ethnic food market. Relative newcomer to the market Mexican food has also increased in popularity, growing by 20% over the last two years.
However, in terms of purchasing power, the research shows sales of Indian cuisine surpassed Chinese by £189 million in the last year alone – suggesting Brits are favouring cooking Indian food at home in the kitchen. Indeed, as the current economic climate may be encouraging Brits to recreate their favourite restaurant experience at home, new research from Mintel suggests that while six in ten adults enjoy ethnic food, they are ditching the ready meals for their own healthier versions.
When it comes to our home eating habits, four in ten adults who eat ethnic food enjoy it at home once a month and one in ten eat it twice or more in the week. Indeed, 62% of Brits said that cooking ethnic food at home is cheaper than getting a takeaway and, proving we are enjoying the fruits of our cooking labours, 36% said cooking ethnic food at home tastes just as good as having a takeaway. Just 6% of Brits claim to never eat ethnic food.
Mintel projects the retail value of ethnic value in Britain to increase to over £1.5 billion by 2013 as the nation’s affinity for cooking ethnic food at home grows. The nation’s favourite Chinese food has seen Stir Fry sales go up 37% over the last two years, while cooking sauces for Chinese food are also up 13%. Indian food has also seen a slump in ready meal sector, with sales down 2.6% from 2006, but conversely has been a 11.4% rise in retail value of accompaniments in the last two years. Mexican food has received a massive boost over the same period with all retail sectors up in value.
Emmanuelle Bouvier, Senior Market Analyst at Mintel said:
“The current economic climate seems to be impacting on Brits seeking to recreate the restaurant experience at home. The initial establishment of popular favourites Chinese and Indian cuisine have led to a broadening of the market and increased popularity of different types of ethnic food. “
“Stir frys tend to be seen as healthy meal solutions that are also convenient while cooking aids, such as pastes and spices, give consumers the freedom to tailor their meals to their taste, which they cannot do with ready meals. “She continues
Virtually all adults eat at least one ethnic style of food, with just over three in ten of us consuming five or more styles. Enjoyment of ethnic food is currently greatest with young adults – peaking at just over seven in ten of those aged 25-44.
However, when it comes to ready meals, our tastes wander closer to home with over half of consumers eating British ready meals. In contrast to the decline in sales of other ready meal sectors, Italian ready meals have increased 33% in value from 2003 to £471 million in 2008.

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