UK diners want more ethnic seafood
More UK restaurant guests are seeking out ethnic foods that are heavily seafood-focused, such as Thai cuisine.
According to foodservice consulting firm Technomic’s “100 U.K. Chain Restaurant Report,” the fastest-growing chains in the country are all ethnic concepts. While UK consumers visit restaurants serving Italian, Indian and South African cuisine, Asian cuisine — particularly Thai food — is building momentum.
“Consumers seem to be gravitating toward Thai-inspired preparations for their bold and unusual flavors, especially dishes that pair fiery chilies with fragrant ingredients,” said Lauren Edwards, associate editor for Technomic.
For example, London-based Busaba Eathai is one of the fastest-growing UK restaurant chains, according to Technomic’s report. Sales for the full-service Thai concept soared 80.7 percent from 2010 to 2011. By the end of 2011, Busaba Eathai had 10 units, up from three in 2009.
“As a Thai-focused brand that emphasizes its authentic preparations and fresh fare, Busaba is filling a niche in a still largely undeveloped sub-segment within Asian. UK consumers love Thai, but Thai on a chain level is not yet widely represented, so the market is far from saturated,” Edwards said.
Busaba features several seafood dishes, including Tom yam talay, which includes prawn, squid and baby clams with noodles and spicy sour soup, and Cod Filet Stir-Fry with cod, Thai garlic, and other ingredients. The seafood-centric menu of Busaba and other Thai restaurants in the UK correspond with UK diners’ growing interest in seafood.
Fifty-three percent of UK consumers said they are likely to order fish or shellfish dishes at restaurants and other foodservice locations, according to Technomic’s upcoming “Ethnic Food and Beverage U.K. Consumer Trend Report.” Fifty-five percent of those diners say they are likely or extremely likely to order ethnic foods and flavors for their seafood dishes.