Spain and Germany are seeing growth of 30 percent annually in ethnic food, according to Food From Britain, a research firm in the UK. A few years ago, the fastest-growing European market for ethnic foods was the Netherlands, the firm says. Sweden was Europe’s number-one consumer of Mexican food.
One beneficiary of the worldwide growth of ethnic food brands is the Hispanic brand Goya. Founded in 1936 in New York City by immigrants from Spain, Goya is today the largest Hispanic-owned food company in the United States. The Goya brand, with more than 1,500 product offerings, often occupies multiple shelves in grocery stores. In 2005 alone, Goya added over 400 new products.
Goya has adopted the approach that Latino foods should be segmented further into country-oriented cuisine, because that’s the way Hispanics identify themselves. As a result, the company markets products from the Caribbean, Mexico, Spain, and Central and South America. The company manufactures and distributes its products from the US, Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic and Spain.
The Asian food brand segment has seen strong growth not just in the United States, but also worldwide. In the UK, for example, the leading ethnic foods for years have been Indian and Chinese. But other Asian cuisines are on the rise. UK market research publisher Key Note says that some of the fastest-growing ethnic foods are Malaysian, Japanese and Indonesian.
One leading brand in the European market, Daloon (which means “The Great Dragon” in Chinese), got its start in Denmark. Sai-chiu Van, of Chinese origin, traveled to Denmark to study agriculture, but he remained there and founded Daloon in 1960. He began by making spring rolls in the basement of his Copenhagen home. Today the company operates from two factories in Denmark, offices in the UK and a subsidiary in Germany. Daloon sells Chinese, Indian and Thai products in the UK, Germany and Scandinavia. It also exports to Austria, France, Spain and Switzerland.
In the US, more than half the Asian population is concentrated in just three states—California, New York and Texas—but Asian food is widely popular. Chinese, Japanese and Thai food brands have long been considered mainstream, but now Vietnamese, Indonesian and Korean brands are also popular.
Cosmos Food was a quiet forty-year-old California producer of kimchi, a Korean delicacy, when David Kim purchased the company in 2002. Since then, the company’s business has “more than doubled, in part because it went mainstream: Its products now line the shelves of Costcos across California and Wal-Marts across America” (“Cosmos Food Co., fermenting revolution with its kimchi,” Los Angeles Times, April 22, 2009). Cosmos now runs the country’s largest kimchi factory.
Indian food brands have proven to be especially popular in the past few years. Hain Celestial Group, a US$ 1 billion company based in the United States, markets numerous food brands in North America and Europe. One brand, Ethnic Gourmet, features frozen meals and sauces in four categories: Thai, Indian, Malaysian and Greek. The Indian line is the leader, with ten frozen products and four simmer sauces. Ethnic Gourmet products are not only exotic in taste, they are also all natural—a powerful brand attribute in today’s health-conscious consumer market.