Trends & Insights

Ethnic Dishes and Global Flavors

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Life in the Salad Bowl: Ethnic Dishes and Global Flavors Go Mainstream             

In the last couple of decades the assent of multiculturalism has transformed the country from a “melting pot” society into that of a “salad bowl” society in which immigrants retain their own national characteristics and culture.

Evidence of this shift is readily apparent in the ethnic aisles at grocery stores and in the ingredients and seasonings popping up on restaurant menus around the country. “As a society, we are exposed to more and different flavors, which have piqued our taste buds and stimulated our appetites,” shared Doug Santschi with AdvancePierre Foods. “It’s our responsibility as a food supplier to recognize these trends and partner with customers to create innovative menus that offer unique flavor profiles, convenient prep and quality ingredients.”    

A 2016 Sandwich Consumer Trend Report published by Technomic revealed that younger consumers are eager to try new and ethnic foods. Some of the fastest-growing sandwich flavors on Top 500 menus since 2015 include Sriracha (+80%), chili (+58.7%) and mango (+33.3%), all of which are ethnic-inspired. 

A review of nearly 6,800 chain and independent menus – conducted by Technomic for its MenuMonitor Q1-2016 – revealed the following “top” and “growing” ingredients mentioned on sandwich offerings: 

top and growing ingredients on sandwiches

While traditional sandwich ingredients still reign supreme, foodservice operators that punch up the flavor or provide that distinctive twist to a meal are appealing to a demographic that is more accustomed to a “salad bowl” society and drawn to that ethnic cachet.

In 2015, National Restaurant Association research cited that three-quarters of consumers say they like when mainstream restaurants serve ethnic cuisine, while 66 percent of consumers report eating a wider variety of ethnic cuisines now than they did five years ago.

A little more than a decade ago, many people fumbled over the pronunciation of the word chipotle. Yet the smoke-dried jalapeño chili primarily used in Mexican-inspired cuisines is likely in the vocabulary of nearly every three-year-old child in America today. Global flavors and products foreign to the United States just a few years ago rapidly are growing in popularity.

So, don’t be surprised if the toddler at a nearby table orders a side of Sriracha mayonnaise with his kids’ meal.