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Reports chart what's hot & what's not: tacos top ethnic food; low-cal FF up 24 %.

Reports Chart What's Hot & What's Not: Tacos Top Ethnic Food; Low-Cal FF Up 24%

What's the most popular ethnic food in America? The Mexican taco, according to a new study from MRCA Information Services. The tortilla with filling concoction became No. 1 by default, however, as pizza and spaghetti are now classified as non-ethnic, mainstream American foods.

"Tacos continue to be the top away-from-home ethnic food choice, and now they're threatening lasagnas's spot as the favorite ethnic food at home," said Edmond Mozes, vice president of the Stamford, Conn.-based research firm that carried out a national menu census of more than 2,000 households.

"As for pizza," he continued, "the favorite American pie has tastier toppings, with spicier slices now more popular than plain cheese pizza for the first time."

Meanwhile, spaghetti continues to reign supreme at home, eaten by virtually every member of the U.S. population last year. In comparison, only 39% of Americans consumed the pasta dish away from home.

Entitled "Ethnic Foods, Pizza and Spaghetti," here are other findings from the study:

. Almost 90% of the population consumes ethnic foods at home or away from home.

. Ethnic food items showing the most dramatic growth over the past five years were burritos, refried beans, enchiladas, egg rolls and teriyaki dishes.

. West Coast Americans were the most avid ethnic food eaters, consuming 64% above the average. Not surprisingly, they favor Mexican foods.

. Convenient sources of ethnic food increased. Commercially frozen products gained in each ethnic category, while carry-out became especially popular in the Oriental and Mexican food segments.

Goodbye Mom's Cooking?

Another intelligence gathering service, NPD Group, Inc., of Port Washington, N.Y., recently published its third annual National Eating Trends report. Citing convenience as today's single most important food marketing factor, it suggested that "mom's home cooking" may soon become a thing of the past.

Main meals consumed at home continued to fall for the second consecutive year, the 180-page study noted, while away-from-home dining expanded as restaurants visits for main meals climbed. Overall, compared with five years ago, North Americans are spending 18% more per average on take-home meals, and 10% more for food eaten at restaurants.

Meal complexity and composition continue to change. At-home meal occasions reflect fewer base dish items than previously, and the trend toward simpler at-home meals was emphasized by the decline in the total number of items used in meal preparation. The number of base dishes, ingredients, toppings and cooking aids used fell to a five-year low.

Compared to five years ago, breakfast has undergone the least amount of change, accounting for the greatest number of meals made and consumed at home. Lunch patterns are undergoing the most volatile changes due to factors such as away-from-home restaurant meals, carried meals, non-commercial/institutional eating, and meal skipping. At dinner, take-home is the most significant trend. The annual number of take-home meals per person has grown 50% at dinner since 1984.

Strong gains have been noted in the snacks consumed at home and carry-out meal segments over the last year, encouraged by the microwave oven and easily prepared frozen foods.

Long-term food and beverage trends at home show these items as the fastest growing: poultry, pizza, frozen novelties, carbonated soft drinks, ready-to-eat cereal, chips and popcorn. At home consumption of the following are declining: side dish vegetable salads, fruit, potatoes, cakes, bread, beef and eggs.

Low-Cal is Heavy Business

Meanwhile, low calorie frozen dinners and entree sales in the U.S. are advancing 24% annually. Business Trends Analysts cites the market as among the fastest-growing in America, as more than 80 million adults are attempting to lose weight or control their diets. The outlook is for continued growth in the low-cal segment, with projections calling for 13.6% annual increases before the market surpasses the $3 billion mark in 1997.

Overall, manufacturers' sales of frozen dinners and entrees were pegged at $3.5 billion during 1987, according to the Commack, N.Y.-based research organization. Indications for 1988 pointed to an annual gain of 14% with sales topping the 3.9 billion mark. Expansion for the coming decade was forecast at 8.1% annually, which adds up to a retail trade worth $7.5 billion in annual sales by 1997.

As Business Trends Analysts ranks the frontrunning manufacturers, Banquet now holds the leading share in the frozen dinner segment, with Swanson just edging out Le Menu (both Campbell products) for second place. Stouffer's (Nestle) Lean Cuisine leads in the frozen entree category, with the next three competitors trailing by only two or three share points.

BTA's 175-page report, "The Market for Frozen Dinners and Entrees," is selling for $795. For more information, telex 4973973 BTA UI. More information on the MRCA report on ethnic foods is available by phoning 203-324-9600. Those seeking more details on NPD Group's National Eating Trends report should call 516-625-0700.
COPYRIGHT 1989 E.W. Williams Publications, Inc.
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Copyright 1989 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:frozen foods
Publication:Quick Frozen Foods International
Date:Jan 1, 1989
Words:812
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