London, Feb 24: The ongoing credit crunch has put many out of business, and it has now affected one of Britain's biggest food groups, as more and more Chinese and Indian restaurants are closing down.
As per Associated British Foods (ABF), the sale of rice, noodle and vegetable oil from its Westmill wholesale business has fallen 'tens of per cent' in the past six months.
And experts have claimed that at least 25 curry houses are closing every week as customers cut back on going out.
"Sales to Indian and Chinese restaurants are well down," the Sun quoted AB Foods finance director John Bason as saying.
"They are finding trading very tough. There's certainly a move away from eating out and it's creating clear winners and losers," he added.
The Bangladesh Caterers Association last month warned that 1,000 Indian restaurants would close down shop this year, which is more than ten per cent of the UK total.
It claimed restaurant owners faced changing tastes and many had failed to invest in their businesses.
Westmill is the biggest UK supplier to the ethnic catering trade, and AB Foods highlighted the downturn with a warning that half-year profits would fall across its grocery arm.
Bason said that customers were 'down-trading' to cheaper brands, and that the group's operations in the US and Australia were being most affected.
"AB Foods is not immune to the economic climate but is certainly resilient," analyst Graham Jones of Panmure Gordon stockbrokers added.