AIBU to think that there is no need for seperate aisle sections in supermarkets for different ethnic foods?

(77 Posts)
winterhill Sat 01-Dec-12 11:24:48

In our Tesco we have an Asian section and a Polish section but surely instead of having a special aisle for these foods it could be incoprporated in the types of food section eg all the spices together rather than having some spices together and then the Asian spices in a different place Same with things like Polish biscuits and breads Why can't they just be in the biscuit and bread aisle?

HeadfirstForAMistletoeKiss Sat 01-Dec-12 11:26:58

It just makes it easier to find. We are veggie, and all of the veggie products are together. It would be annoying if the veggie sausages were with the meat ones etc.

HeadfirstForAMistletoeKiss Sat 01-Dec-12 11:28:22

Obviously I mean the prepared veggie foods, the fruit and veg/lentils/dairy etc are in different places grin

DudeIAmSoFuckingRock Sat 01-Dec-12 11:30:17

i've wondered this too. in our asda we have a separate Polish section. i dont get why they dont just have all the food types together.

Head how does it make it easier to find, surely if you need veggie sausages you would just go to the sausage section and look for the veggie ones the same as looking for cumberlands or venison ones, it's not as if they touch each other, they are all wrapped up.

CajaDeLaMemoria Sat 01-Dec-12 11:30:18

Yes, it's just easier for shoppers. Sainsburys tested both ways, and most people preferred being able to go straight to a Polish section, or an Asian section, or a halal section.

It also means that this food won't be right next to something that that culture would find repulsive. So in general, halal meat should be away from normal chicken/beef/etc. It's usually next to fish, as it is in the chilled department, making it more acceptable.

FlaminNoraImPregnantPanda Sat 01-Dec-12 11:30:22

YANBU Here in this frozen wasteland where I live they have a tea and coffee aisle but I have to hunt down the tiny foreign foods section to get PG Tips. confused

SoupDragon Sat 01-Dec-12 11:30:32

Eating Polish food isn't really the same as veggie though. It's not like they don't eat ordinary stuff too.

I can see both sides - i think there are pros and cons of both I guess. I like that I know where to look for the large packs of strange things, eg you get bigger bags of almonds in the "ethnic" aisle. OTOH, I can see that they would be just as well placed in the almond aisle. I suppose if you are buying lots of "ethnic" stuff it makes sense you can grab them all in one place.

ChippingInLovesAutumn Sat 01-Dec-12 11:32:32

It's just easier. If you are Polish or Vegetarian or just want to cook mexican - it's easier to be able to go to one section to get the bulk of what you need rather than guess where else it might be. Why is this an issue for you?

Chopchopbusybusy Sat 01-Dec-12 11:34:38

I love the ethnic section in our local tesco. Things which are much cheaper include spices, curry pastes, coconut milk, dried and canned pulses, long life fruit juices. I suspect it's in their interest to have them separately as it would be bad for them to have one coconut milk for example at £1.79 per can next to another at 59p. But the savings are there for everyone if they do look in that aisle.

LilyVonSchtupp Sat 01-Dec-12 11:38:32

I remember reading that Polish customers prefer a non-corporate local shop experience which is Polski Skleps thrive. This may be chains prefer to offer the Polish section to try and attract Polish customers with their preferred product. I may be wrong.

I think it's fair enough in that circumstance, and also to do specific cuisine shelves eg Mexican, Thai, Kosher which target customers within and outside those cultures. What I hate is seeing is 'Ethnic Food' hmm or 'Asian Food' - just meaningless to everyone.

bruffin Sat 01-Dec-12 11:39:19

The food in the ethnic aisles tend to be imported brands that you don't normally get.
I don't mind, we have a huge world food aisle at our tesco, dd loves going down it to find something different. Think it would be sort of lost if it was in with the normal food

Saski Sat 01-Dec-12 11:47:58

The name of this aisle should be changed to not Western, which is quite different from ethnic.

lljkk Sat 01-Dec-12 11:48:52

Much easier to find and also easier to even notice those select foods are even present.

GrrrArghZzzzYaayforall8nights Sat 01-Dec-12 12:01:57

It's different Saski, but just as meaningless as LilyVon said. Specific labelling would be best - Polish, Thai, Chinese (which is quite different to Thai which is why Asian foods is useless), Kosher, and so on. If a catch all term was needed, "imported food" would better classify (as other Western countries also have different foods) I think.

I find in big supermarkets they tend to be in all related places - like salsa is almost always with the crisps as well as in the mexican as well as in with the condiments. The reason why is because supermarkets have tested and found that this works best for their bottom lines.

Mrsjay Sat 01-Dec-12 12:12:36

It is just easier to find I think. and if maybe somebody who hasnt got great english then looking for what they want in a shelf fool maybe be a wee bit confusing . Tbh it is just Polish food that is a seperate bit in tescos the other ethnic food is in with the rest , so a packet of sharwood noodles would be beside a packet of Authentic chinese noodles (if that makes sense)

Mrsjay Sat 01-Dec-12 12:12:58

in my tesco*

ecclesvet Sat 01-Dec-12 12:14:54

"The name of this aisle should be changed to not Western, which is quite different from ethnic."

ethnic: pertaining to or characteristic of a people, especially a group (ethnic group) sharing a common and distinctive culture, religion, language, or the like.

How is "not Western" any better than "ethnic"?

noisytoys Sat 01-Dec-12 12:18:38

I know it's not the same but i am so happy supermarkets made a free from section. A whole isle DD can choose from grin

Alisvolatpropiis Sat 01-Dec-12 12:22:30

It's just to make it easier to find the food isn't it? There are polish sections,free from sections etc.

I don't see why it it would bother anyone. It's just making sure everyone can find the products they want.

Mrsjay Sat 01-Dec-12 12:22:39

I think I saw in 1 supermarket not where i live but on holiday 'foods of the world' aisle I am sure it was a saisnbury ?

Mrsjay Sat 01-Dec-12 12:23:59

I think the free from section must be so handy for people with allergies, dds friend has celliac disease and it must be great for her parents to just go shopping,

HeadfirstForAMistletoeKiss Sat 01-Dec-12 12:28:58

It just is, I only need to go to one section for fridge or frozen veggie stuff.

I like the ethnic sections too, always get my mango chutney from the Indian one, it's cheaper and tastes nicer.

My had is Coeliac, and he uses the gluten free section, he prefers it to be in the same place too.

I guess when your food options are more limited, it's easier for them to be all together than spaced out around the store and having to hunt then out.

HeadfirstForAMistletoeKiss Sat 01-Dec-12 12:29:46

The free from section is really handy for us too when dad is visiting, or coming for Christmas, we can just go and pick stuff from there.

GrrrArghZzzzYaayforall8nights Sat 01-Dec-12 12:35:07

ecclesvet - all people are part of an ethnic group, all food could be classified as ethnic.

Saski Sat 01-Dec-12 12:38:11

Because ecclesvet, all food has an ethnicity. When ethnic is used to mean a fixed region, i.e. Eastern, it's like deciding that "height" means "tall".
The grocery store means non-western.
Like we really need help from Tesco in dumbing down the English language any further.

Saski Sat 01-Dec-12 12:38:36

Ah, someone beat me to it.

QueenOfCats Sat 01-Dec-12 12:40:19

Because its easier to go to the correct aisle when they're separate? I buy from the Asian and Polish sections - I'm glad they're separate, it's far easier

Sallyingforth Sat 01-Dec-12 12:40:49

I'm all in favour of the separate displays. Much more useful and interesting to browse through different products rather than have unusual items lost amongst the usual stocks.

ivykaty44 Sat 01-Dec-12 12:42:49

I like the ethnic food section - as the tinned foods are cheaper than in the other section smile The lentils are also about 200% cheaper than in their rightful section and the coconut milk is also much cheaper.

ivykaty44 Sat 01-Dec-12 12:44:24

Oh and supermarkets get paid for shelf space so that is why the ethnic section is segregated as the big players like heniz and schwarts spices don't want to pay a premium for shelf space and have other cheaper brands littering the surrounding space

I like it. I never saw it until I moved to brighton even though there was a massive polish community in my home area before. having it in it's own section makes me stop and check it out, and likely to add to the shopping basket. If the biscuits were with the biscuits I would never try them as I don't go down the biscuit isle! grin

ivykaty44 Sat 01-Dec-12 12:47:49

As for whether you like how a supermarket lays out its store is immaterial, a supermarket has spent thousands of pounds looking in to how to lay out their shop to get the best possible amount of money from you the customer - not to please you

ChippyMinton Sat 01-Dec-12 12:49:18

Why does it bother you?
Our Asda has several sections including Polish, Indian, Kosher, Halal, even Irish (Taytos and red lemonade!). I assume the supermarkets have sound commercial and customer-care reasons for doing so.

Willabywallaby Sat 01-Dec-12 12:50:48

Coconut milk powder is my find in the world foods bit, great stuff.

EduCated Sat 01-Dec-12 12:51:04

I've always assumed its more for marketing purposes than anything, so they can try and attract Polish/other international shoppers by tempting them in with their own special section, by which point they'll end up doing most their shopping in there.

HECTheHallsWithRowsAndFolly Sat 01-Dec-12 12:51:49

It does make it easier.

All the gluten free stuff is together. Far easier than going round looking for the gf pasta, the gf biscuits, the gf bread...

Strawhatpirate Sat 01-Dec-12 12:57:33

YABU It's the best aisle in the supermarket!

bruffin Sat 01-Dec-12 13:09:58

In Tesco its called the World food aisle, not ethnic

SoupDragon Sat 01-Dec-12 13:37:40

Ethnic/non-western is being pedantic for the sake of it IMO. Everyone knows what is meant by "ethnic food" in this scenario. Besides, it also has Caribbean food in it which is, I think, WEstern.

SoupDragon Sat 01-Dec-12 13:38:37

No idea what it is actually called in Waitrose though - I just think "Oh, I must check the ethnic bit"

GrrrArghZzzzYaayforall8nights Sat 01-Dec-12 15:24:19

Soup - Depends on how Western is defined - geographically, yes the Caribbean would, but commonly it means countries with a Western Europe model. Again, confusing, showing how important language can be (as other Western countries, geographically or otherwise, use different foods) which is why I prefer Imported foods as a catch all term with everything divided by specific area of origin.

Hesterton Sat 01-Dec-12 15:36:01

We're all ethnic. I love the world food aisle and try to pick something I've never had before each shop. Beetroot horseradish paste anyone? I didn't like salted fish, but maybe I cooked it badly. Agree about the cheaper pulses, rice etc.

SantyClaws Sat 01-Dec-12 15:36:50

We have the 'international' aisle, and then it has banners along it separating the diff parts of the world. I think it's a good idea.

And as someone said above, lots of the tinned stuff is half the price. The Indian spices are waaaay cheaper than those rip off jars

squeakytoy Sat 01-Dec-12 15:38:05

My supermarket says "international foods". I cant see a problem with it being a separate place. If you go overseas and the shop sells british produce, it is usually grouped together for ease of browsing.

LoopsInHoops Sat 01-Dec-12 15:42:37

Live abroad, and just love the 'european' section of supermarkets here. It's soul destroying moving to a country and spending hours reading every bloody label in the shop carefully to figure out what you can cook.

Bue Sat 01-Dec-12 15:47:23

If they get rid of the 'international foods' section they'll probably raise the prices of all the products in it! Seriously, coconut milk is half the price of the stuff across the aisle!! And the supermarket thinks I'm not onto their tricks...

snuffaluffagus Sat 01-Dec-12 15:47:52

I live being able to go straight to the Irish section of the 'foreign' aisle and getting my club orange and Barry's tea etc, it's just easier. Otherwise how would I know what other things from 'home' were available without searching the whole shop?

pigletmania Sat 01-Dec-12 15:50:12

It's just easier, supermarkets are hard enough to find things. If you are looking for something specific, it's easier to find

"surely if you need veggie sausages you would just go to the sausage section and look for the veggie ones the same as looking for cumberlands or venison ones, it's not as if they touch each other, they are all wrapped up."

As a veggie, I hate having to go in the meat aisle and hunt around the piles of dead bloody animal parts look there for my veggie sausages.

Noisytoys you get a whole free from isle!?!?! I'm so jealous smile my local supermarket has the tiniest section allocated to free from!! But on the subject of the work food aisle, it's awesome for the other half who loves a bloody good curry.

World obviously not work. Damn you autocorrect!

Viviennemary Sat 01-Dec-12 17:18:56

I think it makes it easier to find. The whole point of how they arrange things is to make things easier to find for most people. But they will never please everyone.

anothercuppaplease Sat 01-Dec-12 17:22:58

Spices are much cheeper in the 'world food' isle at tesco. But they now sell Heinz ketchup, other posh brand ketchup, spicy ketchup, tesco's own ketchup, best range ketchup, value range ketchup, reduced salt sugar ketchup, Turkish ketchup, Polish ketchup, Caribbean ketchup, chinese catsup, .......

I did have trouble on one of those "price-up-your-fruit-and-veg" machines (they seem to have disappeared now?) when trying to weigh an aubergine. Turned out to be listed under "Exotic". Who knew aubergines were exotic? confused I guess that's the issue really isn't it, whether customers can find things.

winterhill Sun 02-Dec-12 17:15:21

snuffalufagus* how would I know what other things from 'home' were available without searching the whole shop?*
By going to the biscuit section for McVities, The tea and coffee section for PG Tips, The sauce aisle for HP (or whatever) of course.

Chippyinto It doesn't bother me in a way that I feel uncomfortable just wondering about the segeration of foods when at the end of the day a spice is a spice and it seems mad going the Shcwartz for some spices and then have to traipse back 3 or 4 aisles because the one that you want is Asian or whatever. Same with breads, dried beans and so on.
However some of the comments make sense about the big brand names having a lot of clout about what goes where.

LRDtheFeministDude Sun 02-Dec-12 18:45:46

notgood - according to Morrisons, fennel is 'exotic'. My mum worked out she'd been paying the price for white onions for it for months as the lad on the till didn't know what the heck it was.

I like the separate aisle but I'd also love it if they'd put nuts and stuff in one place - at the moment there are nuts in with fruit and veg, nuts with snacks, nuts with 'ethnic', and nuts with baking. All different prices. I know it's meant to make me crack and buy the expensive one by mistake but it's just so fucking annoying I end up buying none.

Btw, beetroot horseradish sauce is the business.

GhostShip Sun 02-Dec-12 18:48:36

Because it's easier to find? I love the aisle with all the polish foods on it, always something new I want to try. I think in time it might be integrated.

exexpat Sun 02-Dec-12 18:57:18

I think they do it so that they can grab business from the small Indian/Caribbean/Polish grocers by offering some of their core lines cheaper, while at the same time charging their other consumers ridiculous prices for tiny packets of rice, lentils, coconut milk etc because it doesn't occur to them to look in the World Food (or whatever it is called) aisle.

It also plays to the impulse-buy shopper: if you are, say, Indian, and go in for a 10kg bag of rice, and right next to it are some snacks you miss from home, then you are much more likely to pick them up than if you had to go searching the whole supermarket for them.

I know that's what happened when I went to import-specialist supermarkets in Tokyo, looking for specific exotic British things like teabags and baked beans - I'd always come out with lots of things I'd forgotten existed and hadn't intended to buy, just because I spotted them displayed next to the things I was looking for.

exexpat Sun 02-Dec-12 18:59:04

Oh, and as a vegetarian, I would hate it if supermarkets started putting veggie burgers and sausages in with the meat equivalents - I avoid those aisles as much as possible, can't stand looking at cabinets full of dead animals.

Himalaya Sun 02-Dec-12 19:01:23

I think they also do it because it is a whole section. Some stores have a polish section, Asian brands section, Caribbean section etc... Others don't depending on the area, so you don't have to go round asking do you have callaloo, do you have mighty malt etc .

It's amazing the price difference between lentils, dried apricots etc... In the whole food section and in the "ethnic" section. Anything that finds its way into the "cooks special ingredients" section seems to have a 500% mark up.

YuleBritannia Sun 02-Dec-12 19:17:48

It's not just ethnic foods. You will find the Free From foods are separate but that makes it easier to look for something that's dairy-free or egg-free or gluten free. I'd rather go to these shelves than look along a whole aisle for gluten free biscuits.

The same idea might be applicable to those from ethnic minorities. Apart from that, some supermarkets also have a World Foods aisle and you'll find ethnic foods there sometimes.

YuleBritannia Sun 02-Dec-12 19:25:26

Oh. And sometimes the assistants you ask for help sometimes don't know what you are talking about. Yesterday, I asked someone filling shelves in the stationery section where I could find lever arch files. She didn't know what they were. When I did find them, I found her again and demonstrated the parts: lever - arch - file. She said, "Well I learn something every day." Not food related but .......

Oh and in a C&A (I will always remember this) I was in the men's department and asked an assistant where the waistcoats were. She didn't know what a waistcoat was.

Finding dariry-free and egg-free Easter eggs is a nightmare in Sainsbo's but Morrison's is good for them. Just saying ........

kim147 Sun 02-Dec-12 19:57:45

Free from is usually in Free From. But I do remember having "fun" in Sainsburys trying to find a particular product that I knew they had somewhere.

anothercuppaplease Mon 03-Dec-12 10:26:09

The problem for me is that you would find, say, 5 locations for hot sauce. In the regular spice section, in the Indian food section, in the Japanese food section, in the Caribbean section, in the Polish section. I once spent 15 minutes going through all those to find the hot chilli sauce I wanted. That doesn't make sense to me. Put all the hot chilli sauces together!

KenLeeeeeee Mon 03-Dec-12 10:29:41

My local supermarket just call it "World Food" which is very hmm to me. What is everything else in the shop classed as? Martian Food?

That said, I do like rummaging in those aisles for the bargains on spices and stuff. We got a massive bottle of soy sauce for just over a pound, and it was twice as big as the more expensive well-known brand.

sashh Mon 03-Dec-12 10:31:30

Why can't they just be in the biscuit and bread aisle?

Because they can charge different prices for essentially the same thing.

Next time you are in tesco pick up some cotton wool and Qtips in the baby aisle, then go round to the beauty isle. You will find the same products with slightly different packaging and in the beauty aisle it is more expensive.

Blu Mon 03-Dec-12 10:50:35

OP, do you consider this to be a political discussion or a consumers shopping convenience discussion?

There have been 'chinese' sections for ages where the stir fry sauces are next to the dried egg noodles and the prawn crackers.

In terms of convenience I prefer it this way, if I want chilli sauce it will be a bit different depending on whether it is Indian, chinese or thai chilli sauce.

It's useful to have the 'Free From' section where the gluten free stuff is with other allergy-friendly produce rather than alongside the bread and cakes, and I imagine people find it handy to have the Kosher and Halal shelves.

Presumably supermarkets do what their customers find most conducive to filling their trolleys, in which case market research will have suggested that in terms of mass preference YABU.

Or is it getting under your skin as in 'why can some people have their own shelf, harrumph?' ?

Blu Mon 03-Dec-12 10:51:39

Sash makes a v god point! Always worth checking the Caribbean shelves for red beans at lower prices, and the Indian shelves for dried pulses.

winterhill Mon 03-Dec-12 11:01:37

OP, do you consider this to be a political discussion or a consumers shopping convenience discussion?

No, not political at all.
I like cooking but don't like shopping much. I get fed up of traipising round a supermarket with a shopping list of new things I want to try - at the moment I'm doing a lot of Eastern European vegan menus, my last phase was Mexican.

I go to the, say dried beans section and think what I want isn't there and by chance find it on a different aisle or by my red lentils and find it somewhere else, aisles away, cheaper. I get it is a marketing ploy but stilll annoying.

You used the example of chilli sauces. Would it be so wrong if you went to where they sell chilli sauces all the different types of sauce would be there? It makes sense to me!

Theas18 Mon 03-Dec-12 11:07:15

I agree it'd make it a heck of a lot easier to find the cheapest option- eg cheap lentils are in " asian" rather than " wholefoods" sections!

Also I want to try polish mayo but it's it's not stacked with the hellmans I come out thinking " I mean to get that"!

winterhill Mon 03-Dec-12 11:14:09

My way of shopping now has been to go straight to the Asian supermarkets. I've been able to get everything I need cheaper than Tesco,Lidl or Aldi and still get Warburtons bread and PG Tips!

exexpat Mon 03-Dec-12 11:17:39

Ah, but supermarkets don't want you to be able to find the cheapest option easily - why else do you think they change their prices so often and do so many confusing promotions of 3-for-2, BOGOF, "half-price" (from an artificially inflated price only available on their website for three weeks), "big pack, better value" (but actually more expensive than buying smaller single packs) etc etc.

They may have lots of advertising slogans about helping you save money, but in reality that is the last thing they want to do. So having similar but very differently priced things in separate aisles makes much more sense for them. You didn't think supermarkets were actually arranged for customer convenience, did you? If so, why do they have the delicate, crushable fruit & veg as the first thing you walk through on your way in to the store? It's all about consumer psychology...

winterhill Mon 03-Dec-12 11:25:06


Yeah I know supermarkets aren't going to do anything to make shopping easier for us! I remember doing about supermarket psycology nerly 30 years ago at college!!
Still annoying!!!

In my local Asda there is a world food aisle. Then there is a seperate fridge for halal meat. I love the world food aisle (I buy all my spices and rice there because for some reason it's a lot cheaper than than elsewhere in the shop)

samandi Mon 03-Dec-12 12:36:43

YANBU. It's quite annoying. You pick up rice from the rice section and then have to go to two other sections to check if it's cheaper there. Rice is rice for heaven's sakes. Coconut milk is in four different places. The prices change from week to week so you have to go to four different places to see which is cheaper. Same with fajita wraps, three different aisles.

higgyjig Tue 04-Dec-12 12:01:36

"Rice is rice for heaven's sakes"

lol, no it's not. Asian rice is different to the crappy British rice you get and I'd rather have it in a separate section. Some people should write for the Daily Mail.

exexpat Tue 04-Dec-12 18:23:55

"Rice is rice" - have you ever tried making sushi with Uncle Ben's easy-cook long grain? All rice is not the same. I have about five different varieties in the cupboard at any one time.

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