Consumers may not have the means to travel the world, but that hasn't dampened their desire to experience new ethnic cuisines.

Unfortunately, chain restaurants aren't meeting current consumer demand for new foods and flavors. Only a quarter of consumers polled for a recent Technomic survey say they are satisfied with the availability of ethnic offerings at limited-service (23 percent) and full-service (28 percent) chains, which translates into opportunities for operators to differentiate their menus and gain market share with globally inspired offerings.

“Authenticity is crucial to the ethnic food and beverage purchasing decision” says Technomic’s Executive Vice President Darren Tristano. “Sixty-five percent of consumers say food that tastes authentic is one of the most important factors in deciding which establishment to visit for ethnic foods and beverages. Operators have an opportunity to create innovative and globally inspired menu items reflected through preparation, taste, and flavor. Consumers also say that dishes prepared by someone from that region are given greater credibility as authentic.”

To help operators and others aligned with the foodservice industry more effectively understand consumer behavior, definitions, preferences, and attitudes towards ethnic flavors and cuisines, Technomic developed the “Ethnic Food & Beverage Consumer Trend Report.”

Interesting findings include:

  • Three out of four consumers (77 percent) purchase ethnic foods and flavors away from home at least once a month. The percentage is strongly driven by Asian and Hispanic respondents, with 90 and 88 percent of these consumers, respectively, purchasing ethnic food or flavors away from home at least once a month. 

  • Data indicates that cuisine does not need to be from another country to be considered ethnic; nearly nine out of 10 consumers consider regional U.S. cuisines such as Cajun (89 percent) and Creole (86 percent) cuisines to be ethnic.
  • 33 percent of consumers strongly agree that there are many ethnic foods they would like to order at restaurants but are not able to find. 

  • Southeast Asian flavors are moving into the mainstream with the development of familiar offerings with a flavorful Thai, Vietnamese, or Indonesian twist on sauces, dressings, and ingredients.

Technomic’s “Ethnic Food & Beverage Consumer Trend Report” examines consumer behavior, attitudes, and preferences toward ethnic flavors, foods, and beverages based on survey results from 1,500 consumers.

The Ethnic Cuisine Trends section provides a comprehensive guide to the trends that continue to shape ethnic flavors and foods. The report also features 20 emerging limited- and full-service restaurants that offer ethnic foods and beverages. 

Beverage, Consumer Trends, Menu Innovations, News