Demand for exotic foods is continuing to hot up, creating new opportunities for growth, according to food manufacturers.
As more consumers are travelling on holiday to far-flung locations, they are craving more authentic foods in convenient formats to consume on their return, says Amanda Walker, marketing director of Heinz frozen foods UK.
In response to this demand, Heinz recently launched its Weight Watchers range of oriental inspired dishes - including Beef & Black Bean, Sweet & Sour Chicken and Sweet Chilli Chicken. Its research suggests that the oriental frozen ready meal sector is worth £35M - with wider growth potential.
"We are finding that more people are wanting ethnic foods that they can make easily and quickly from their home," Walker adds.
"Traditionally most people will buy ethnic foods from takeaways and restaurants, and these meals are packed with carbohydrates and calories. So we are responding to a gap in the market, without compromising on taste."
According to Heinz, its six development chefs are looking at increasing the range, particularly its Indian cuisine offering.
"We do have a chicken curry product, but there is much more scope in this market," adds Ian McCarthy, marketing manager, Weight Watchers from Heinz. "This is where we see potential to grow the range."
As more people travel and become open to trying new foods, ethnic foods are growing in popularity, according to Pasta King.
It found in its taste tests, consumers are becoming more receptive to different food fusions. "There has been a huge increase in demand for more exotic flavours as customers' palates become more adventurous," said Paul Haigney, operations director at Pasta King.
It has launched two new curry flavours to its healthy pasta meals range including Kari Veg and Chicken Balti.
In addition to Chinese and Indian food, Thai flavours are increasing in popularity.
Sales of Thai food are growing 20% year-on-year, according to The Thai Curry Company, which recently launched a range of authentic Thai curry kits.