SAN MATEO, Calif. -- International foods are playing an increasing role in the Center Store, as retailers witness greater product accessibility and a growing demand for foreign fare.
According to Ron Tanner, vice president of communications for the National Association for the Specialty Food Trade, New York, recent developments in international trade have substantially expanded the number of overseas products available to conventional chains.
Consumers are responding positively to the influx of these foods as they seek to enjoy ethnic cuisine comparable to the foods found in some of their favorite restaurants, he added.
Retailers are taking advantage of the increased demand by expanding international selections.
At the newest Mollie Stone's Market, recently opened here, the international section spans three short aisles and will be identified by a World Foods sign and flags over the gondolas, David Bennett, co-owner of the Mill Valley, Calif.-based chain, told SN.
In addition, refrigerated international foods will be sold in-line with international grocery items, Bennett said.
Tanner cited refrigerated foods as a particularly strong category, which he said reflects consumers' growing penchant for fresh foods.
"Consumers want fresh products," he said. "They want fresh tortillas and salsa. They want wasabi. They want sushi. They want the kinds of things they've had in restaurants."