By Helene Maurer, senior manager, Nielsen NZ

When it comes to dining out or feasting on fast food, New Zealanders are certainly not afraid to try something different. Nielsen Consumer and Media Insights (CMI) reveals that 1.4 million Kiwis eat Thai food and the number of consumers that have eaten it in the past month has increased by 17%.

So who is the typical Thai food fan? They are more health-conscious compared to the total population with more than half saying they try to balance healthy eating with a busy lifestyle; they also believe plenty of exercise is an essential part of their life. Concerned about the amount of sugar in their diet they will avoid unhealthy foods and think genetically modified foods should be labelled and additive free.

They are more likely to pay more for top quality foods, are open to trying new types of foods, and want ideas to make cooking meals easier. 834,000 bought a takeaway meal in the last seven days while 869,000 cooked a meal from scratch at home.

Thai foodies are a growing and dynamic consumer segment. There is an opportunity for retailers to engage with this group by looking at ranging products that appeal to busy consumers who want food that is fresh, healthy, free of nasties, flavourful and easy to prepare - and have labelling that highlight all of these key benefits.