America continues to shift toward a multi-cultural population and today we all expect our food eating occasions to deliver more than just fuel to keep going. Consumers are beginning to expect an understanding of what they eat, a cultural experience, and self- expression. These two mega-trends are driving America’s love of new global flavors.
NRN research indicates that 56% of consumers are open to trying new items occasionally. These numbers are much higher with the younger generations.
The big-three perennial popular global flavor platforms remain strong as they expand geographically or focus on a particular country or region within a country.
Italian flavors still resonate with 42% of consumers and this appeal has gone into regions like Tuscany and expanded to incorporate the entire Mediterranean rim. Flavor & the Menu’s 2016 Top 10 Trends lists Modern Italian as #7.
Asian menu mentions lead growth in both restaurant appetizers and entrees. Young Millennials and the generation that follows are taking a keen interest in the emerging Asian cuisines of Vietnam (23% intent to order) and India (25%). Technomic lists the Sriracha Effect as #1 trend in 2016.
Interest in traditional Mexican flavors and formats has grown to include Latin and South American cuisines. This year Flavor & the Menu’s 2016 Trends includes Mexican as a leading ethnic cuisine again. Mexican flavors have the heat and ethnic romance that today’s consumer loves.
Based on demographics alone, a more diverse, global cuisine is inevitable in the United States. Generation Z, born 1997 or later, comprises only 20% of the U.S. population today, but will account for 40% by 2020. For this generation, ethnic cuisine isn’t ethnic cuisine – it’s simply “cuisine.”
Source: Datassential - 2016 Food Trends
“It’s great that I am seeing more of my grandmothers Vietnamese cooking at restaurants more”.
It's A Lifestyle
Global options get notice in food shopping and restaurant choices
“Eating has become more to me than hunger satisfaction. I like to explore of new unique flavors and share my finds on Instagram. “
A Cultural Fusion & Modern Eating linked to Identity and Community
According to NRN, food today has become a source of solace and pleasure. It’s now a vehicle of self-expression, a point of pride … a declaration of identity and more. Psychologist William Hallman of Rutgers University said people’s eating habits help them identify who they are on many levels. Diners want to escape to the present and they share their food discoveries with others on social media.
Operators with traditional menus and little history of selling global flavors may ask: “How do I approach some of these widely popular global flavors on my menu?