Ride the Mexican Wave
With the popularity of Mexican cuisine among UK consumers reaching new heights of success, there is no doubting that this ethnic food is a highly lucrative market. We take a look at how a shift in consumer habits and a global movement towards speed, freshness and value are making their mark on the future of Mexican cuisine
Dating back to Aztec times, Mexican cuisine is best known for its range of flavours, colourful decorations and variety of spices. It has evolved over the centuries through a blending of native and European elements into the global success it is today – a unique cultural tradition named by UNESCO as one of the world’s intangible assets, alongside the Great Barrier Reef and the Taj Mahal.
Mexican cuisine has never been more popular than it is right now. Fuelled by a massive surge of interest in ethnic cuisine, the Mexican category is worth in excess of £135m with a healthy growth rate year on year. Moreover, it is the fastest growing ethnic cuisine today with restaurant leaders predicting that it will be the second fastest growing cuisine type over the next three to five years, behind healthy eating.
In the UK there are already 200 Mexican restaurants capitalising on this trend, which looks set to continue as consumers become increasingly adventurous with their tastes, veering away from the time and expense of conventional dining towards quick, simple menu options. To help caterers offer Mexican menu options that go beyond the burrito norm, Discovery Foods, one of the leading Mexican food brands, has responded to the shift in consumer demands with a range of new concepts and products.
Capitalise on fast-food trends
People who are constantly looking to save time fuel today’s out-of-home market. Quality fast food is not only a great solution, it’s a growing one with well-travelled consumers also looking for new and varied dishes to try.
Another concept from Discovery is its selection of Go:Mexican recipe ideas, which encourages caterers to take the UK’s best-loved fast-food favourites – such as a traditional burger, wrap or kebab – give them a Mexican twist and create a point of difference on menus. Visit the website for a host of ideas including Cheesy Mexican Chips, Pizza Slice Azteca and Salsa Dogs.
Spice factor – help is at hand
To facilitate the ‘fast’ in fast foods for caterers, Santa Maria has brought out a couple of ranges of spices that come in grinders: the Extra Fine Selection (including Chili Explosion, Lime Pepper and Roasted Garlic & Pepper) and the more. by Santa Maria comprising more adventurous flavour combinations such as Cacao & Chili, Orange Pepper, Chili & Lime, Pasta Basilico and Wasabi & Sesame.
“UK customers will continue to become more adventurous in their tastes and as they do, the growth in the market for Mexican food is set to continue,” says Bev. “It’s time for caterers to sit up, take notice and ensure they get their Mexican food offering right.”
For recipes and more information about Discovery Foods and Santa Maria, visit
It’s a wrap
An integral component of any authentic Mexican offer is the traditional tortilla. EC spoke to Fraser Chynoweth, head of Foodservice UK and Ireland at Mission Foods, one of Europe’s leading flatbread producers and the largest global producer of wheat tortillas, creating 75 million tortillas on a daily basis.
“Mexican cuisine has benefited from the rise in popularity of ‘street food’, which has seen an explosion of Mexican-influenced offers from restaurants such as Wahacca and burrito bars like Chilango and Barburito,” says Fraser. “As consumers are becoming more travelled they are seeking authentic culinary experiences back in the UK. Until recently the British consumer had been used to Tex Mex – the Americanised version of Mexican cuisine – which is a far cry from the real deal. With consumers continuing to embrace Mexican cuisine there is a huge opportunity for operators to entice customers with an exciting authentic Mexican menu.”
Mission tortillas are made on genuine Mexican presses and come in a variety of sizes and formats including frozen and long-life ambient products, low salt, low fat, and flavoured options. “Our wraps are tender and pliable, making them easier to roll and fold without cracking or separating,” says Fraser.
One stop shop
If you are looking for a spicy something that comes ready made, help is at hand.
New from Aviko is its Spicy Bean Burger, which is filled with both whole and chopped kidney beans, is lightly seasoned with a hint of spice and wrapped in a light breadcrumb coating. Create a Mexican offering by serving, for example, with a tortilla and some guacamole.
Westlers Multi Menu range of ambient meals includes Indian, Western European and two Mexican varieties: Chilli Con Carne and Spicy Vegetable Chilli. Serve with rice or garlic bread for a traditional eat-in option, or consider serving with wedges, nachos or tacos for a lighter alternative or even as an extra topping for burgers and hot dogs to offer a spicy spin on traditional favourites to go. Once opened, the tins can be stored for up to 48 hours in a fridge.
The range comes in 1.36kg cans which provide up to six 227g main meal servings or eight 170g servings as potato toppings.
3-steps to the perfect Mexican meal
A speedy experience at great value ranks highly among consumers today. Discovery’s latest concept, Mexican 3-step, combines the success of the Mexican category with the rapidly growing fast-casual format. A wide range of recipes can be found on the website, but the concept basically comprises the following:
1. Choose your base
Tortilla, rice, taco shell or tray
2. Fill it up
Chicken fajitas, three bean chilli, chipotle beef chilli, pork carnitas or fish tacos
3. Top it up
Roasted chipotle corn salsa, pico de gallo, mango and peanut pico mixed salad, pinto / kidney brand dip, salsa, guacamole or soured cream.
“As the attitudes of customers shift progressively towards speed, freshness and value, the trend for fast-casual formats will continue across the globe. Mexican 3-step is designed to help caterers offer an exciting and profitable menu option.”
– Bev Taylor, regional marketing manager at Discovery, emphasises the importance of catering for consumer trends