There is growing appetite for Caribbean condiments and foods in sections of Europe, a recent Caribbean Export Development Agency research has found.
And officials are upbeat about future prospects.
The research showed increased interest in exotic food sauces and condiments, and natural, plant-based ingredients, and officials have concluded that with the growing taste for Caribbean food in Europe, regional manufacturers could have a lucrative market.
The release of the findings of the study come ahead of Caribbean Export’s virtual expo to be held November 17 and 18.
According to Manager of Competitiveness and Export Promotion at Caribbean Export, Dr Damie Sinanan, “we are seeing great potential for Caribbean food products across Europe at the moment”.
“It seems that consumers are looking for different flavours and playing more with spices, but there is much promise amongst natural foods such as chocolate, teas and gluten-free flours.
“We are really excited about the range of quality artisanal producers that we have at our expo this year, which will help to support trade between the Caribbean and Europe,” said Sinanan.
From today, Caribbean food suppliers will be given the chance to showcase their unique food products to European buyers at the Caribbean Export’s first virtual two-day expo, Absolutely Caribbean – Unlocking the Profit Potential of the Caribbean.
The Caribbean Export study highlighted that in 2018, more than €26 billion (US$30.8 billion) of goods and services were exported worldwide from CARIFORUM, of which 17.6 per cent were exported to Europe.
In the UK, the Caribbean food market is now estimated to worth almost £100 million (US$132 million) and foodservice wholesale giant Bidfood singled out Caribbean food as a top 10 cuisine trend.
In 2019, UK retailer Tesco also highlighted Caribbean fare as an “emerging trend”. Sauces and condiments, in particular, were said to worth £1.12 billion (US$1.5 billion) and grew by 16.8 per cent in the last year.
Brothers Craig and Shaun McAnuff at Caribbean food & lifestyle platform Original Flava, said they have seen a “huge rise” in popularity of Caribbean foods in the UK in recent years, which they described as exciting.
According to the study, the number of Caribbean restaurants in the UK tripled in the 12 months leading up to August 2019.
In Spain, the ‘foods from other countries’ category has grown by 105.9 per cent since 2012. Spicy tastes have seen strong growth, with Caribbean flavours named as an emerging trend in sauces and spices, increasing around 55 per cent to three million kilogrammes and over 29 per cent in value to nearly €19 million (US$22.5 million), the research found.
Almost a third – 32 per cent – of German consumers said they liked Caribbean food, which has led to an increase in heat and spice on the table during family dinners.
People in the Netherlands are also increasingly open to incorporating greater variation into their cooking, including flavour combinations and the use of fresh and natural ingredients, with the value of chilli sauces climbing 125 per cent in value since 2016.
Europe’s love for wholesome, plant-based ingredients, combined with the region’s efforts to promote sustainability, have also led to an increased interest in natural and organic products such as chocolate, tea and gluten-free flour.
In the UK, chocolate is a £4.3 billion (US$5.7 billion) category, and according to market research company Kantar, plain and dark chocolate is growing by 14.5 per cent year-on-year. In Spain, it is worth €1.5 billion (US$1.8 billion), and increased by 3.6 per cent in 2019.
Meanwhile, the Netherlands was the largest importer of cocoa beans in 2018 and is home to the largest cocoa grinding industry in the world.
Another major area is that of rum. Total rum sales in the UK last year reached £1 billion (US$1.3 billion), and Caribbean-produced rum accounted for just over 51 per cent of the top ten rum brands sold in the UK last year.
In Spain, rum accounts for about 11 per cent of spirits consumed at home. The beverage accounts for about 10.2 per cent of the overall spirits market in the Netherlands.
The tea category in the UK is worth £561.3 million (US$741 million). In Germany, 129 million cups of tea are consumed every day and in the Netherlands 71 per cent of consumers drink tea at least once a week.
The UK’s gluten-free flour food category grew by 19.9 per cent in 2019, compared to the year before and in Germany the market is worth £174 million (US$230 million). (Barbados Today)