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Evolving Canadian habits reflect Asian influence

By Caroline Scott-Thomas , 25-Oct-2011

Evolving Canadian habits reflect Asian influence

A growing Asian population in Canada is having a strong influence on Canadian eating patterns, according to a new report from market research organization The NPD Group.

In a compilation of its food-related research over the past year entitled Eating Patterns in Canada, the market research organization said that 3.3m Canadians, or 11% of the population, were Asian, and eating patterns had shifted as the number of Asian Canadians increased.

Author of the report and food and beverage industry analyst at The NPD Group Joel Gregoire said: “In order to better understand how to cater to this growing segment, food and beverage manufacturers and retailers should examine how this ethnic group influences the country’s eating behavior. By recognizing the major similarities and core differences between the growing Asian community and the rest of the population, food and beverage providers will be better equipped to make the strategic decisions necessary to fuel their success.”

In particular, The NPD Group reported a general shift from potatoes to rice, with the number of meal servings including potatoes falling by 703m per year over the past decade, while those including rice increased by 297m meals a year. Consumption of seafood and pork – both Asian Canadian favorites – has increased while beef consumption has declined, and other traditional Asian products such as green tea, have also surged in popularity in line with changing demographics.

A similar trend has also emerged in the United States, with Mintel saying that Asian foods and flavors are now so commonplace in the US that they are hardly considered ethnic anymore. Manufacturers of reduced calorie frozen and chilled entrées have also favored Asian-style meals, which easily can be bulked up with vegetables and typically contain less animal protein – with the additional advantage of lower costs for the manufacturer.

This latest NPD Group research suggests that a similar shift is taking place in Canada, and it says food manufacturers seeking longevity in the Canadian market should take into account Asian Canadians’ dietary preferences.

According to Statistics Canada, immigration to Canada is expected to grow by about 15% over the next decade. The majority of immigrants are expected to come from Asia, with immigrants from the Philippines, India and China topping the table of those granted Canadian permanent resident status in 2010.

“Canada’s demographic environment continues to evolve, with much of the population growth fueled by immigration,” Gregoire said. “As the face of Canada’s population continues to change, our eating behavior is sure to follow suit.”

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