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Analyst Pulse: Popular Flavours and Cuisines across the Globe

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Expanding Flavour Palates and the Rising ‘Foodie’ Culture

For many upper and middle class consumers, food is about much more than survival. It has become a source of pleasure, experimentation, cultural exchange, and, for many, a hobby. Across the globe, diners enjoy all sorts of flavours and cuisine, and their favourite foods need not come from their own culture. Today, Japanese diners savour spicy Indian cuisine, while Indians gather over a plate of Italian pasta, and so on. To better understand where certain flavours and cuisines are growing in popularity, Euromonitor turned to its global network of analysts and asked about food trends in their respective countries.

Spicy and Healthy Foods Gaining Popularity

The consensus among many analysts is that spicy food is becoming increasingly popular across the globe. While Thai, Indian, and Mexican cuisines have long been known for their fiery dishes, North American cuisine has typically tended toward the milder side (eg, meat and potatoes). The fact that analysts in the US and Canada were the most likely to report a rise in the popularity of spicy food is an indication of both immigration trends – the US, for example, has seen a huge influx of Latinos in the past decade – and increasing experimentation with foreign flavours. The interest in experimentation is also evident in the rising popularity of mixed flavours like “sweet and chili” and “sweet and sour”.

Global Flavour Trends

Source: Euromonitor International Analyst Survey—Analyst Pulse; November 2013

Note: Showing percent of analysts who have observed an increase in the popularity of the indicated flavour among consumers in their country over the past two to three years.

Health also plays a role in flavour preferences. Consumers in all regions are increasingly opting for grilled foods, rather than fried foods, while relatively few analysts report rising interest in sweet foods. That said, analysts in the Asia Pacific region also report the greatest increases in sweet and fried food popularity, indicating that these eaters may be a bit less health-conscious than their global counterparts.

Consumers Often Crave New-to-Them Cuisines

In spite of the spicy foods craze, analysts report that Japanese cuisine – which is typically simple, fresh, and unseasoned (and often a healthier option) – is growing faster in popularity than any other. On the other hand, hot, peppery Thai cuisine is the second most popular choice.

Popularity of other cuisines varies between regions. Italian food is becoming quite popular in Asia Pacific and Latin America, but analysts in the US and Canada, where Italian food has been mainstream for decades, report very little new interest. Meanwhile, Asia Pacific and North American analysts report a huge boom in the popularity of Korean food, yet few in Europe and the Middle East and hardly any analysts in Latin America see the same trend in their home countries. Indian and Middle Eastern cuisines are also growing more popular in the US and Canada.

Global Cuisine Trends

Source: Euromonitor International Analyst Survey—Analyst Pulse; November 2013

Note: Showing percent of analysts who have observed an increase in the popularity of the indicated cuisine type among consumers in their country over the past two to three years. Cuisine types that are considered to be growing in popularity by less than 10% of analysts are not shown and include: French, Caribbean, Cuban, and Ethiopian.

No Better Time to Encourage Gourmet Experimentation

In an era of Instagram photos and celebrity chefs, food has become fetishized on many television shows and social networking sites – and consumers are eager to experiment with new flavours and cuisines. It is an excellent time for restaurants to introduce unique new menu items or concepts. The growing interest in healthy preparation suggests that grilled or steamed versions of foreign fare may further hit the mark.

In addition, while restaurants certainly play a role in the rise of adventurous eating, cooking at home allows culinary exploration as well. For those hoping to recreate the Pad Thai or sashimi they saw on TV, access to ingredients and – just as importantly – step-by-step instructions will be essential. This presents opportunities for manufacturers and brands in this industry to offer meal kits, spice and oil kits, and even cookware and kitchen tools that help aspiring chefs pull it all together. Grocery retailers may consider expanding their foreign foods sections or including bundled produce pairings such as avocado and chili peppers.

Introduction to Analyst Pulse Surveys

In 2011, Euromonitor International began designing, executing and analysing its own surveys in order to expand its trusted global research. This is part of a series of articles presenting the results of its Analyst Pulse surveys. In Analyst Pulse surveys, Passport Survey reaches out to Euromonitor's network of in-country analysts and in-house researchers around the world in order to find out more about current consumer attitudes and habits on a wide variety of topics, from economic outlook to daily activities. The Survey team collaborates with Euromonitor industry managers to identify topics and design questions. In November 2013, 208 researchers answered questions about trends in popular flavours and cuisines among consumers in their country. These questions were created in partnership with the Consumer Foodservice team.

More on the Sample: Our Global Analyst Network

Analyst Pulse survey results differ from other survey data cited on Passport Survey (eg, findings from the Annual Survey or Global Youth) and should be interpreted with some caution.  Analyst Pulse responses reflect the opinions and habits of several hundred of Euromonitor International’s in-country analysts and in-house researchers around the world.  As such, results reflect a great degree of geographic, economic, and cultural diversity among educated consumers.

On the other hand, Euromonitor International’s researchers do not constitute a random sample of consumers in a given country or across the globe, so their responses do not necessarily represent the opinions of a broader population of consumers.  Passport Survey presents their attitudes and behaviours in order to provide starting points for potential further investigations and sparks of tactical insight.


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