Report: Chain restaurants missing ethnic cuisine opportunities

Aug. 27, 2012

New research from Technomic shows that, while consumer demand for ethnic cuisine is high, chain restaurants are missing the opportunity to offer such foods and flavors.

Just one-fourth 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 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," said Darren Tristano, Technomic executive vice president. "Operators have an opportunity to create innovative and globally inspired menu items reflected through preparation, taste and flavor."

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. Additionally, consumers say that dishes prepared by someone from that region are more credible as "authentic."

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

Highlights 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.
  • Thirty-three 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 Thai, Vietnamese or Indonesian twist on sauces, dressings and ingredients.

Technomic's report is based on survey results from 1,500 consumers.

Read more about trends and statistics.

Topics: Food & Beverage , Operations Management , Trends / Statistics

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