ROCKVILLE, Md.—Indigenous foods from South America may hold the key to new opportunities in the food industry, according to research from Packaged Facts, which opens a whole realm of unique food items to pique consumer interest.
Looking beyond the veil of Mexican cuisine, recent trend research from the Packaged Facts' Culinary Trend Tracking Series (CuTTs) identified top-hitting South American foods. Purple corn, aji amarillo (yellow aji) and chupe make up a few of the foods and flavors behind these newly-vetted opportunities. The increasingly popular items come from a diverse group of products imported from Peru, Brazil, Ecuador and other South American countries, and they will likely drive trends in future food production applications. Due to consumers' desire for "hot and spicy" foods and beverages, ethnic foods and flavors continue to gain leverage within the U.S. food industry.
Through an analysis of consumer insights, as well as retail and foodservice trends, CuTTs found a few specific product selections that were presented in the CuTTS South American Flavors report:
- Aji peppers and rocoto have expanded applications in sauces and as snack ingredients.
- Purple corn and purple potato will stake more claim as authentic and healing foods, especially for those seeking non-GMO ingredients.
- Quinoa, amaranth and pichuberry will play on texture and flavor attributes, as well as leverage health and wellness, to increase penetration in the specialty and natural market.
- Pisco and Caipirinha will draw on perennial interest in international spirits and beverages to foster new "mixology" and flavoring applications.
- South American stews, including Brazil’s Feijoada, have gotten their sea legs in the restaurant circles.
More than half of consumers today are looking for bold flavors, and more than 20% of adults enjoy eating ‘foreign’ foods, according to Rick Zambrano, CuTTS food research editor. The American palate is now more open than ever to bolder flavors and food experiences that replicate trips abroad. In addition, a fast-growing Hispanic population, which is projected to account for nearly one-third of the population by 2050, surpassed $1 trillion in purchasing power in 2010.
One important finding indicates many of these foods have been recast as health and wellness foods, which opens up a lot of opportunity as consumers seek more functional foods for wellness and foods that align with their healthy lifestyles. For example, purple corn and purple potato, as well as quinoa and amaranth, are viewed as nutritious and beneficial in illness prevention.
From sauces and snacks, to chowders and baked goods, South American food inspirations fit into many in-demand categories such as health and wellness to purposeful eating. Download the "Trending: South American Cuisine" infographic from Food Product Design's FoodTech Toolbox and learn what South America has to offer to food and beverage product designers.