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Matt Jonas, vice president of sales and marketing for Balls Food Stores, tells the Florida News-Press that there are three things driving an up tick in ethnic food sales - immigration, television's Food Network and travel.

"We see the growth of Hispanics, primarily, but there are certainly larger Asian communities," Jonas tells the paper. "Many more homes have access to the Food Network, and those guys are always coming up with new ingredients. And we are a much more mobile society. We travel more — to Canada, Mexico, Asia — and when we’re on vacation, we try something new and come back home and want to play with it. As a grocer, you listen to the influences and see how fast you can get the ingredients.”

What are the next hot items that US consumers will be looking for? Jonas tells the News-Press that they likely will include “chimichurri, an Argentine sauce of olive oil, vinegar, herbs and spices that accompanies meat; dulce de leche, a caramel sauce made with slow-cooked sugar and cream; Cuban food; Indian spices and ingredients; and kosher meats.”
KC's View:
Two things that we like about this story.

One is that Jonas is looking beyond his own ads and manufacturers’ promotional plans to see what sways customers. Too many retailers don’t open themselves to these kinds of influences…they see things purely in terms of category management systems and spread sheets. If we were a retailer, we’d make it a requirement that there be a television in the buying office tuned to the Food Network, just to see what people are talking about. (We often have it on in our office, playing low…unless, of course, it is “Mike and the Mad Dog” time…)

The other is that Jonas talks about “ingredients,” and not just solutions. Which is by itself refreshing.