Technomic’s 2018 Ethnic Food & Beverage Consumer Trend Report found that 82% of consumers order ethnic flavors and cuisine, and 32% of those are willing to shell out more for authentic dishes.
Aiming for authenticity won’t just bring in more cash per meal — it’ll attract more customers. According to the report, nearly half of those who eat ethnic food always prefer authentic fare, whereas less than a quarter say their preferences change with the cuisine.
Successfully cashing in on the ethnic food trend requires the industry to prioritize transparency — this time about ingredients and flavors. In Technomic’s press release, Kelly Weikel, director of consumer insights said, “Everyone’s definition of authentic is different, so when it comes to ethnic fare, it’s vital to clarify the flavor profile and ingredients upfront so consumers aren’t surprised or disappointed in their order.”
Weikel goes on to explain that foodservice providers and food manufacturers need to offer up as much information as they can about their ethnic food offerings to increase accessibility. Clarity is especially important considering 36% of respondents said they like to try regional varieties of ethnic cuisines to try new foods and flavors. Consumers might see ingredients outside their comfort zone on menus and grocery store shelves, but without any extra info, they might be less likely to branch out.
America’s taste for ethnic food has grown over the past few years and continues to trend upward. In 2013, retail sales of ethnic cuisine were just shy of $11 million, and in 2018, they’re projected to exceed 12.5 million. During that time, foods like Greek yogurt and hummus have become household staples thanks to the innovation of brands like Chobani and Sabra.
Considering the momentum of ethnic foods and ingredients sales, it’s safe to say Americans’ consumption of food from around the world is more than a passing trend. Breaking into the scene requires a deep understanding of your audience’s tastes and preferences, but companies that take cues from brands that have realized success in the space will position themselves well to see a payoff.