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    Young Americans Essential to Ethnic Food Market

    They're eager to explore lesser-known cuisines with unique flavor combinations.

    CHICAGO -- New research from Mintel reveals that young Americans and those with children like to spice up their eating. Nine in 10 adults aged 25 to 35 prepared ethnic food at home in the past month, compared to 68 percent of those 65 and older, according to the research findings.

    Additionally, 91 percent of American households with children under the age of 18 enjoyed ethnic food at home in the last month, compared to 78 percent of those households without children.

    "The ethnic food category has had a very strong performance during the recession, followed by a still positive but slightly lower growth trend, likely driven by a return to restaurants," said John N. Frank, category manager, CPG food and drink at Mintel. "However, the category is forecast to grow in the future due to its heightened popularity. As Americans, especially younger people, have palates that are becoming more adventurous and sophisticated, they are also eager to explore lesser-known cuisines with unique flavor combinations."

    The ethnic food category experienced overall growth of 12 percent from 2007 to 2009, driven by a migration from restaurant eating to increased store purchases for at-home dining due to restricted budgets. Beginning in 2010, however, sales have increased by only 4.5 percent from 2010 to 2012.

    Nevertheless, Mintel predicts the ethnic food market will grow by 20.3 percent from 2012 to 2017, propelled by continued consumer interest and more focused product development.

    While households with children over-index on consumption of all types of ethnic food, Hispanic food is the most popular, with 72 percent of respondents from households with children preparing this cuisine at home in the past month, compared to only 50 percent of those without children.

    "The popularity of Hispanic food is likely due to how mainstream it has become in the U.S. and the ease and convenience of preparing it," Frank explained. "The endless supply of Mexican, Cuban and other Hispanic-based restaurants have given home cooks infinite possibilities for recreating these restaurant-style meals at home."

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