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Canada Ethnic Foods Market Report

Everything you need to make the right decisions

Providing the most comprehensive and up-to-date information and analysis of the Ethnic Foods market, and the behaviours, preferences and habits of the consumer.

Mintel has the answers you’re looking for

What are the key challenges facing the industry? Who is the consumer and what do they want? Where are the opportunities, where are the risks and what lies ahead?

Key points included

  • With international foods being mainstream for many, finding new opportunities can prove challenging
  • South Asians in Canada appear less likely to eat foods that differ from what they are accustomed to
  • Many view grocers that don’t offer international cuisines as outdated

Covered in this report

For the purposes of this report, Mintel has used the following definitions of ethnic/international/internationally inspired foods in which Canadians were asked what international foods they ate in the past six months and what they would like to try:

  • African (eg Moroccan, Ethiopian)
  • Caribbean (eg jerk chicken, roti)
  • Chinese (eg fried rice, dim sum)
  • Eastern European/Russian (eg borscht, pierogi)
  • Greek (eg moussaka, souvlaki)
  • Indian/South Asian (eg Pakistani, Sri Lankan)
  • Italian (eg chicken parmigiana, cannoli)
  • Japanese (eg sushi, bento box)
  • Korean (eg bulgogi, kimchi)
  • Latin American/Mexican (eg tacos, fajitas)
  • Middle Eastern (eg Egyptian, Lebanese)
  • Southeast Asian (eg Filipino, Thai)

Expert analysis from a specialist in the field

Written by Joel Gregoire, a leading analyst in the Food & Drink sector, his extensive knowledge delivers in-depth commentary and analysis to highlight current trends and add expert context to the numbers.

It’s no surprise that the overwhelming share of Canadians say they eat internationally inspired foods in one form or another. What drives Canadians to do so is a yearning for culinary exploration and adventurous eating experiences. With most Canadians agreeing that they’re “more open to eating international foods now than (they were) a few years ago”, it’s becoming increasingly incumbent for grocers and food manufacturers to offer a credible selection of ethnic foods in order to “keep up with the times”. This Report delves into what internationally inspired foods Canadians claim to be eating, what they are less likely to eat but are interested in trying and the motivations for why they turn to these foods in general. Joel Gregoire
Associate Director - Food & Drink

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Table of contents

  1. Overview

    • What you need to know
      • Definition
      • Executive Summary

        • The issues
          • With international foods being mainstream for many, finding new opportunities can prove challenging
            • Figure 1: Agreement with “Internationally inspired foods are more mainstream now than they used to be”, July 2019
          • South Asians in Canada appear less likely to eat foods that differ from what they are accustomed to
            • Figure 2: Internationally inspired foods eaten in the past six months, South Asians vs Canadians overall, July 2019
          • Many view grocers that don’t offer international cuisines as outdated
            • Figure 3: Statements related to internationally inspired foods at retail (% any agree), 18-44s vs over-45s, July 2019
          • The opportunities
            • Canadians want internationally inspired foods in ‘easy to eat’ formats
              • Figure 4: International versions of food formats consumers would like to try, July 2019
            • Less commonly eaten types of internationally inspired foods represent an interesting opportunity
              • Figure 5: Types of internationally inspired foods consumers would like to try, among those who have not tried each cuisine, July 2019
            • Foodservice is a gateway to trying internationally inspired food for most Canadians
              • Figure 6: Statements related to internationally inspired foods at restaurants and retail, July 2019
            • Canadians open to internationally inspired flavours being incorporated into ‘familiar’ foods
              • Figure 7: Statements related to internationally inspired foods in familiar foods and fusion entrées, July 2019
            • What it means
            • The Market – What You Need to Know

              • Immigration is fuelling Canada’s population growth…
                • …and Asia is the primary source
                  • Foodservice’s impact on how Canadians get their meals continues
                  • Market Factors

                    • Immigration is fuelling Canada’s population growth…
                      • Figure 8: Percent of Canadians who are visible minorities or not visible minorities, by age, 2016
                    • …and Asia is the primary source
                      • Figure 9: Distribution of immigrants living in Canada, by region of birth, 1996-2036
                    • Foodservice’s impact on how Canadians get their meals continues
                      • Figure 10: Foodservice annual operating revenue in Canada, 2013-18
                  • Key Players – What You Need to Know

                    • Finding the next “what’s next” is increasingly difficult
                      • Casual international fare is an opportunity to promote trial
                        • International chains penetrate Canada’s foodservice landscape
                        • Challenges

                          • Finding the next “what’s next” is becoming increasingly difficult
                          • What’s Next?

                            • Taking it to the streets: casual international fare is an opportunity to promote trial
                              • Figure 11: Old El Paso Street Market Soft Taco Habanero & Line Meal Kit (UK), September 2018
                              • Figure 12: The Spice Tailor Classic Tandoori Indian Wrap Kit (Australia), November 2018
                              • Figure 13: Dosa by Dosa Bombay Potato Street Wrap (US), September 2018
                              • Figure 14: Worldwide Food Associates Pad Thai Asian Noodle Kit (UK), October 2018
                              • Figure 15: Pot Noodle Asian Street Style Malaysian Japanese Miso Soup Pot (UK), July 2019
                              • Figure 16: Walkers Sensations Street Mix Inspired by Mumbai (UK), July 2019
                              • Figure 17: Pringles Street Food Edition Thai Green Curry Flavour Savoury Snack (UK), July 2017
                              • Figure 18: Pot Noodle Asian Street Style Malaysian Japanese Miso Soup Pot (UK), July 2019
                            • International cuisines can incentivize healthier diets with “new” formats and flavours
                              • International chains penetrate Canada’s foodservice landscape
                              • The Consumer – What You Need to Know

                                • Internationally inspired foods offer a sampling of other cultures
                                  • Internationally inspired foods address Canadians’ desire to “try new foods”
                                    • Taste is the main reason Canadians avoid internationally inspired foods
                                      • Younger Canadians are more likely to eat less commonly eaten international foods
                                        • Most Canadians eat three or more types of international cuisines
                                          • South Asians are less likely to eat cuisines that are ‘international’ to them, but there is ample opportunity for development
                                          • Attitudes towards Internationally Inspired Foods

                                            • Many Canadians view internationally inspired foods as mainstream
                                              • Figure 19: “Internationally inspired foods are more mainstream now than they used to be” (% any agree), by age and gender, July 2019
                                            • Internationally inspired foods offer a sampling of other cultures
                                              • Figure 20: Statements related to international foods, July 2019
                                            • International foods important in supporting in-store traffic
                                              • Figure 21: Statements related to internationally inspired foods at retail (% any agree), 18-45s vs over-45s, July 2019
                                            • Social media is critical in engaging younger consumers
                                              • Figure 22: “Social media posts motivate me to try internationally inspired foods” (% any agree), by select demographic breaks, July 2019
                                          • Reasons for Eating Internationally Inspired Foods

                                            • Internationally inspired foods address Canadians’ desire to “try new foods”
                                              • Figure 23: Reasons for eating or showing interest in eating internationally inspired foods, July 2019
                                              • Figure 24: “To try new foods” as a reason for eating or showing interest in eating internationally inspired foods, by parental status, July 2019
                                              • Figure 25: Statements regarding internationally inspired flavours and dishes (% any agree), by parental status, July 2019
                                            • International foods facilitate sharable experiences
                                              • Figure 26: “My friends/family like it” as a reason for eating or showing interest in internationally inspired foods, by age, July 2019
                                            • Few Canadians eat international foods because it’s “part of their diet”
                                              • Figure 27: “From my original country/ancestry” as a reason for eating or showing interest in internationally inspired foods, overall population, South Asians and Chinese Canadians, July 2019
                                              • Figure 28: Availability at restaurants and grocery stores as reasons to eat internationally inspired foods, by parental status, July 2019
                                          • Reasons for Avoiding International Foods

                                            • Taste is the main reason Canadians avoid internationally inspired foods
                                              • Figure 29: Reasons for avoiding certain internationally inspired foods, July 2019
                                              • Figure 30: Taste and smell identified as reasons for avoiding certain internationally inspired foods, by various cuisines, July 2019
                                            • Uncertainty around preparation a potential barrier
                                            • Internationally Inspired Foods by Format

                                              • Sandwiches are the king/queen of internationally inspired food formats
                                                • Figure 31: International versions of food formats consumers would like to try, July 2019
                                                • Figure 32: Banh Mi Boys Instagram Post (Canada), August 2019
                                              • Emerging “bowls” category offers an opportunity to reposition traditional foods
                                                • Figure 33: Sea Delight Tuna Poke Cubes (Canada), March 2019
                                                • Figure 34: Adonis Naoki Seafood Poke Bowl (Canada), July 2019
                                              • Older and younger consumer show varying levels of interest in different food formats
                                                • Figure 35: Crave Chorizo Egg Scramble with Goat Cheese (Canada), May 2019
                                                • Figure 36: International versions of food formats consumers would like to try, 18-44s vs over-45s, July 2019
                                            • Usage of and Interest in International Foods

                                              • Younger Canadians like the less common
                                                • Figure 37: Types of internationally inspired foods eaten in the past six months, July 2019
                                                • Figure 38: Types of internationally inspired foods eaten in the past six months, 18-45s vs over-45s, July 2019
                                                • Figure 39: Types of internationally inspired foods eaten in the past six months, by province/region in Canada, July 2019
                                              • Caribbean foods represent an interesting opportunity
                                                  • Figure 40: Types of internationally inspired foods consumers show interest in trying, among those who have not tried each cuisine, July 2019
                                                • Some demographics to consider moving forward
                                                  • Figure 41: Types of internationally inspired foods (select) consumers show interest in trying, 18-44s vs over-45s, July 2019
                                                • Most Canadians eat three or more types of international cuisines
                                                  • Figure 42: Number of types of internationally inspired foods eaten in the past six months, July 2019
                                                  • Figure 43: Eaten five or more types of internationally inspired foods in the past six months, by household income, July 2019
                                              • Population Segments and Internationally Inspired Cuisines

                                                • South Asians are less likely to eat cuisines that are ‘international’ to them, but there is ample opportunity for development
                                                  • Figure 44: Types of internationally inspired foods eaten in the past six months, South Asians vs overall population, July 2019
                                                  • Figure 45: International versions of food formats consumers would like to try, South Asians vs overall population, July 2019
                                                  • Figure 46: Statements related to international cuisine at grocery retail, South Asians* vs overall population, July 2019
                                                • Chinese Canadians are more likely to eat internationally inspired foods from East Asia, though interest in exploration is apparent
                                                  • Figure 47: Types of internationally inspired foods eaten in the past six months, Chinese Canadians vs overall population, July 2019
                                                  • Figure 48: Statements related to international cuisine at grocery retail, Chinese Canadians vs overall population, July 2019
                                              • Appendix – Data Sources and Abbreviations

                                                • Data sources
                                                  • Consumer survey data
                                                    • Consumer qualitative research
                                                      • Abbreviations and terms