Ethnic Frozen Foods Draw American Dollars

Jun 20, 2003
George Anderson

By George Anderson

Two years ago, Patel Brothers’ grocery store in Jackson Heights, Queens had a frozen food section comprised of three freezers.

Today, the same store has 55 freezers “crammed with inexpensive, ready-to-eat versions of chicken, chick peas and vegetable balls in sauces and spices,” according to an Associated Press report.

Ethnic frozen foods with dishes from China, India, Italy, Japan, Korea, Mexico and elsewhere are filling the shelves of stores catering to the needs of immigrants but also to American consumers looking for something beyond the ordinary TV dinner.

The American Frozen Food Institute reports sales of ethnic frozen foods grew to $2.2 billion in 2001.

According to the AP, manufacturers of ethnic frozens are “mostly small businesses closely linked to immigrant populations from Asia, Latin America and Africa. Still, some are expanding beyond their own ethnic origins. Deep Foods of Union, N.J., is adding frozen Thai and Chinese entrees even as it markets its Green Guru line of Indian dishes.”

Moderator’s Comment: How do you view the ethnic food

Grocers will always tell you that they are looking for
a way to differentiate themselves from their competitors.

You see Chinese, Indian, Italian and Mexican restaurants
doing well in neighborhoods comprised of a wide variety of ethnic groups with
income levels across the spectrum.

It stands to reason food stores selling the same dishes
as the restaurants in frozen form (at lower prices) would differentiate and
grow their business at the same time.

Substantial opportunities also exist outside frozen. Companies
such as Tasty Bite Eatables from India make shelf stable items such as Chana
Masala (Bengal Lentils) and Palak Paneer (Kashmir Spinach and Cheese Cubes)
that are inexpensive, nutritious and different than the everyday fare of American
Anderson – Moderator

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