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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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