Local Vs Global: How Ingredient Trends Reflect Cultural Shifts

August 2020

Interest in global flavours continues to grow at a time when food is increasingly associated with experiences. At the same time, however, a counter-trend is emerging in many markets. Food nationalism is growing, and consumers are proudly consuming their local food. In light of COVID-19, both global and local food trends are evolving, and local food is now playing a new role as a means of supporting the local economy, with consumers looking for ingredients that they trust and know best.

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Key Findings

Consumers’ diets have rapidly globalised as a result of the shift in values to experiences

Consumers’ everyday diets have been increasingly filled with exotic food. The types of restaurant consumers go to shows a clear shift from local cuisine to more exotic food, especially in larger cities. This is largely due to consumers increasingly valuing experiences over things, with multicultural food experiences being increasingly popular. Immigration, urbanisation and tourism have also reinforced the globalisation of food.

Localisation is occurring as a reaction against globalisation

As globalisation continues, a counter-trend of food nationalism is developing, with consumers proudly consuming local food. While global giants use local flavours and ingredients to bring authenticity as a localisation strategy, local players are successfully developing products whereby consumers can relate to the brand's philosophy.

COVID-19 slows the globalisation of food, but will not stop it

COVID-19 will slow the globalisation of food to some extent and push the shift to local production; however, consumers’ curiosity to learn about other cultures and their appreciation of diversity are not disappearing, thus eating exotic food will continue to be one of the most popular experiences among consumers. When staying home, Netflix programmes and food delivery services are fulfilling their need to explore new food cultures.

The role of local food in light of COVID-19

Under COVID-19, with the concern for health, and stress from uncertainty in consumers’ lives, local traditional food recipes and ingredients have strong advantages, as consumers are looking for food that they know and trust. For sustainable growth in the localisation concept, brands should go beyond flavour innovation and emphasise the impact on the local economy. Ethical and social angles to the narrative of local sourcing are key for further growth.


Key findings

Globalisation Boosts Localisation

Consumers’ eating habits are increasingly globalised
Consumers respond to globalisation with localism
COVID-19’s impact on globalisation and localisation in food

The Globalisation of Food: The Drivers and Practices

Value shift from material wealth to experiences is seen in all generations
Condiments play a key role in bringing international flavours to the table
Harissa and yuzu are becoming the next s riracha and ginger
Taiwanese bubble tea booms in Asia, especially in Singapore and Japan
Bubble tea is featured in product developments in snacks and desserts
Food delivery and Netflix maintain food globalisation during COVID-19
Consumers’ curiosity will drive further globalisation in food

Response to Globalisation: Back to Local

The rise of food nationalism
Locally sourced is the new hot topic in ingredients
Craft brands and smaller brands are in the spotlight
Global players’ localisation strategies: the case of Pringles
Soy sauce in Japan: premiumising everyday essentials with local flavours
COVID-19 increases demand for safety and for natural ingredients
Back to local in food: six key features
What local brands should offer beyond local ingredients and flavours


Local food versus exotic food: what mood state does it feed?


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