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USA Today reports this morning that “the explosion of immigrant populations is fueling the growth of ethnic vegetables such as cilantro and bok choy, giving farmers new, and potentially more profitable, revenue streams to add to their American staples of corn, sweet peppers and tomatoes. They'll have less competition for this narrow niche, crops that an ethnic population would have consumed in their home country, now growing in small quantities in the USA.”

According to the story, “Farmers are getting help from agricultural experts at Rutgers, using a market-driven approach determined by Census data, economic forecasting and bilingual surveys of consumers. The plan is to create a blueprint that would develop a market along the East Coast — including Connecticut, New Jersey, Florida and Georgia — to link growers with ethnic markets.

“Farmers would produce potentially more profitable vegetables, such as tomatillos and bitter gourd, that can be grown in their local conditions. Gourmet consumers and specialty food stores are also interested in ethnic produce.”
KC's View:
This is, of course, part of a broader move toward ethnic foods that can be traced to a pair of conditions – the increased number of US residents who are looking for foods that reflect their ethnic backgrounds, as the growth of people who simply are interested in a more varied eating experience.

This is wonderful for retailers, who have a chance to capitalize on both. But, that means being aggressive in how these products are merchandised and marketed, not just putting them on shelves and in cases and hoping that people will find them. It means constant sampling programs, it means running cooking classes, and it means sponsoring recipe contests that can generate traffic and sales.

It means competing. And, as we all know, “compete” is a verb.