The popularity of ethnic foods among U.S. consumers has been increasing over the past few years, and now, more than ever, Americans are moving out of their comfort zones to explore bolder flavors and more culturally diverse foods. A recent survey by market research firm Mintel, Chicago, estimated the ethnic food market will grow 20.3 percent from 2012 to 2017, and younger consumers, as well as those with children, have a more adventurous palate.
Food Product Design identified four culinary trends expected to kick it up a notch in 2015—ethic/hot and spicy, barbecue, dairy and fermented flavors.
- Ethnic Hot/Spice: According to the 2013 “Flavor Consumer Trend Report" from Technomic, Chicago, there is an increased demand for spicy flavors, as 54 percent of consumers prefer hot or spicy sauces, dips or condiments compared to 48 percent in 2011. Some of these new popular cuisine trends include Brazilian, Russian, Vietnamese, Argentinean, African and Peruvian food. The mainstream ingredients found in a variety of the foods are green chilies, habaneros, jalapeños and chipotles.
- Barbeque: No longer relegated to a backyard staple, barbecue has recently been presented with the opportunity to break out of the traditional sauce, rub and marinade. Why? Because 70 percent of consumers claim flavors prepared through methods such as grilling, roasting or braising are appealing, according to Technomic Inc.’s “Market Intelligence Report: Barbecue," and they are attracted to flavors such as “grilled," “savory," “spicy," “sweet" and “smoky." Barbecue has also branched out to include ethic offerings such as Korean, Japanese, Chinese, Caribbean, Cuban, Hawaiian, Mexican and other Latin cuisines.
- Dairy: The megatrend of ethnic cuisine is also redefining the dairy industry. Vegetable-inspired flavors are now challenging consumers to enjoy yogurt as a savory snack versus the traditional sweet indulgence.
- Fermented Flavors: According to the “Fermented Artisanal Foods: Culinary Trend Tracking Series" report from Packaged Facts, 53 percent of consumers seek out bolder flavors. This statistic has played out well for fermented foods that have found a rising tide of popularity due to the convergence of this desire for spicier, bolder flavors and a growing focus on global foods that represent authentic preparations. A growing number of consumers are also interested in foods that contain ingredients geared toward wellness. The probiotic goodness of some of these foods, such as kimchi, lactic-acid fermented craft pickles and miso, are appealing to those looking to boost digestive health.
While 2015 is projected to be a flavorful year in culinary trends, one thing is for certain—consumer flavor preferences are always evolving and identifying the key trends and creating flavors consumers want is critical for product success. To read more about flavors, download the free digital issue: Survival Guide: Flavors.