According to a new Populus consumer study commissioned by leading oriental food supplier, Wing Yip, Pan Asian restaurants are driving the growth of oriental food in the UK.
The Oriental Food Report, published to coincide with the start of Chinese New Year on February 8, is a detailed investigation into the growing influence of Chinese and other South East Asian cuisines in the UK, as well as the drivers of trends and consumer behaviour.
The research shows that Chinese food is by far most popular, with 87% of the 3,000 people interviewed saying they like eating the cuisine either at home or at a restaurant. This is followed by Thai food (39%) and Japanese (20%), which is considered to be the rising star of the market having experienced a 67% increase in the number of restaurants since 2010.
Populus’s findings show that restaurants are driving consumption, with 70%-80% of those eating oriental cuisine, other than Chinese, eating in restaurants. Younger consumers in London in particular are branching out and eating more Korean (32%), Vietnamese (26%) and Japanese food (21%).
The research reveals that despite the undeniable popularity of oriental food in the UK, relatively few people cook it at home proving that Pan Asian restaurants, which have increased in numbers by 18% in the last 5 years, are critical to the success of the market.
It is perhaps also due to an increase in the number of people holidaying in South East Asia that Brian Yip, Managing Director of Wing Yip UK Trading, has noticed a very positive change in consumer habits as they broaden their culinary horizons.
Yip states: “This report highlights that consumers are becoming far more adventurous in their tastes and with the number of pan Asian restaurants growing, including some exciting new concepts, the future looks bright for the sector.”
Whilst it is likely that growth in long haul travel to South East Asian destinations will naturally stimulate interest in the cuisine in the UK, there is a clear opportunity for the industry to boost ingredient sales by helping to increase consumers’ confidence in their home-cooking abilities.