US consumer trends show that American consumers are more willing to experiment with global flavors and tastes. Mexican (Tex-Mex or Cal-Mex) , Chinese and Indian foods are well known and Asian (Thai, Japanese) are coming mainstream. African (Moroccan, Ethiopian), Authentic Mexican and Middle Eastern flavors are making inroads. This points to increasing American self-identification as “foodie” consumers with global flavor & tastes. In fact, the spices and seasonings market in the US is forecasted to exceed $6billion in 2020 compared to $4billion in 2015.
This increasing demand for global flavors also dovetails with the demand for healthy foods and convenience – reflected in the rise of ready-to-eat packaging, clean label and organic products.
More and more, ready-to-cook and ready-to-eat foods particularly Indian foods, are becoming popular. These products have a shelf life of at least 12-18 months, the quality, taste and flavor remains good and fresh, they are cost effective which means that consumers spend less time preparing the foods. This is afforded due to technological advances in packaging such as the “Retort” technology packaging. Because of this technology the dishes are able to retain the “just-cooked” freshness without use of preservatives. The offerings include ready-to-cook (rice dishes, soups), ready-to-eat (curries, gravies) as well as frozen foods (breads, paratha, pitta) and ready-to-mix (curries, snacks & desserts).
Thai food products have also increasingly been packaged as ready-to-cook and ready-to-eat.
Producers, distributors and importers have worked hard to increase awareness about these ready-to-eat and ready-to-cook foods through promotions and advertising, exhibitions, seminars and workshops in order to strengthen partnerships across value chain. Providing lucrative margins to the distributors have enabled these activities to be intensified. The objective of course is to increase product visibility in terms of retail shelf space and product availability, which has proven successful for Indian, Thai, Japanese and authentic Mexican foods.
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