Ethnic Explorations

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Hawaiian tuna poke bowl with seaweed, avocado, red cabbage slaw, radishes and black sesame seeds. Top view, overhead, flat lay

Technomic’s 2018 Ethnic Food & Beverage Consumer Trend Report highlights the need for accessibility, authenticity and transparency as consumers explore ethnic menu items

Consumers continue to expand their palates, seeking new ethnic foods and flavours. This trend is pushing operators and suppliers to add new, exciting ethnic varieties on menus, but they must also be mindful of consumer preferences and demands when doing so. Technomic’s 2018 Ethnic Food & Beverage Consumer Trend Report finds that consumers want to be informed about ethnic options to ensure that their expectations of authenticity — a term that changes meaning per person — are met. Indicators of authenticity can vary widely, from native chefs/cooks to imported ingredients and bold flavours. By offering transparency upfront, the customer can decide if the dish fits their take on authentic.

“Everyone’s definition of authentic is different, so when it comes to ethnic fare, it’s vital to clarify the flavour profile and ingredients upfront so consumers aren’t surprised or disappointed in their order,” Kelly Weikel, director of Consumer Insights at Technomic, explains. “Additionally, ethnic options must feel accessible rather than intimidating and this can be achieved through providing flavour and sourcing information about each ethnic dish.”

Report findings indicated that among the 87 per cent of consumers who ever order ethnic fare or food with ethnic flavours:

  • 32 per cent would be willing to pay extra for authentic ethnic fare
  • 44 per cent always prefer completely authentic fare, while 23 per cent say their preference changes based on the cuisine
  • 36 per cent like to explore regional varieties of mainstream ethnic cuisines to try new foods and flavours

Compiling findings from more than 1,400 consumer responses, as well as menu and industry data from the Ignite database, the comprehensive 2018 Ethnic Food & Beverage Consumer Trend Report serves as a guide for foodservice operators and suppliers to discover the opportunities, challenges and consumer attitudes regarding ethnic flavours, foods and beverages.

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