Treat Your Customers to Trending Global Flavors
Treat Your Customers to Trending Global Flavors
Globally inspired flavors and dishes continue to dominate menu trends as younger consumers are interested in traveling with their taste buds.
One area of opportunity yet to be fully leveraged: global desserts.
According to Datassential’s 2023 Desserts Keynote report, nearly half (48%) of all consumers are interested in global desserts—58% of Gen Z and 54% of Millennials.
Yet only 28% of operators offer global desserts on the menu.
Here are ways to introduce more internationally inspired treats on the menu.
Trending Flavor Inspiration
Research indicates globally inspired flavors resonate well with younger generations. More than a third of Gen Z expressed interest in eating at Indian restaurants (36%). Using ingredients such as garam masala, which The New York Times calls “the most common spice blend in the country and a cornerstone of the cuisines of South Asia” to season items ranging from pies to bread may entice Gen Z patrons.
Similarly, 38% of the age group is interested in Middle Eastern restaurant fare. Serving dishes containing items such as harissa—a Tunisian chili pepper paste that’s been one of the fastest growing savory ingredients in the last few years and can be used in cocktails—or ras el hanout, a Moroccan spice blend made with cardamom and anise and used in desserts like cake— draw business from younger generations.
Millennials are also gravitating toward taste exploration, according to Sarah Hickey, senior director, insights and market research for Dawn Foods.
“Millennials are especially interested in exploring Asian and Latino cuisine, with foods like chocolate sesame cake and churro-flavored donuts becoming increasingly popular,” Hickey told Food Business News.
“Dedicating time to making treats such as cake sushi, churro whoopie pies or even wasabi cupcakes are proving to be effective ways of bringing new taste experiences to customers.”
Millennial and Gen Z diners aren’t the only ones who order dishes featuring ingredients that were initially popularized in other countries. Kerry’s 2023 Taste Trends and Nutrition Charts show a variety of global flavors as the fast-growing sweet flavors over the past few years, including dulce de leche, churro and matcha tea.
Research indicates that 18% of consumers favor flavors associated with comfort foods in certain cultural cuisines. Approximately 14%, for instance, say flavors from mainland Asia, such as red curry coconut and Himalayan salt are their favorite. Chile crisp, a garlic-and-chile-pepper-flake-infused condiment—which can be used in peanut brittle, cupcakes and even on ice cream—has also become more sought after in recent years.
More than a quarter of consumers (26%) have a preference for flavors from Latin America. Mexican cuisine is the most frequently consumed variety from the region, according to Mintel. tilizing authentic ingredients and flavors in dishes is a must to satisfy both Hispanic and non-Hispanic consumers, who are seeking realistic and convenient ways to experience Latin foods and flavors through foodservice and other channels, Mintel notes.
Entice Trial of New Flavors With Traditional Elements
Incorporating novel international tastes into familiar, classic foods can also help make them a less intimidating option. Featuring flavors like matcha, lychee, yuzu and chai in baked goods could appeal to consumers who are “looking for internationally inspired options,” according to a food and beverage trend report from Japan-based flavor producer T. Hasegawa.
Making globally inspired menu items approachable is key—70% of consumers think familiarity of ingredients is important when encountering an unfamiliar food and that guidance on how to eat it was important, according to Datassential’s Global Flavors Keynote Report.
Consumers may respond well to a twist on a traditional treat, for example—such as churro bites made with TWIX® Cookie Bars—or an item that includes regional ingredients, like the dulce de leche in these cookies made with M&M'S® Chocolate Candies and DOVE® Dark Chocolate.
Somewhat unfamiliar culinary elements, though, may receive a better reception in certain settings. Consumers are more likely to experiment with flavors when getting takeout or dining in at a restaurant, for instance, than when ordering delivery.
With global flavors here to stay, offering items that contain emerging global tastes could potentially pique interest in your menu—and, by offering consumers a chance to journey to distant destinations without having to leave home, potentially help expand both your customer base and overall sales.
Want more insights on global flavors? Get inspired by our playbook on holiday global desserts or access our infographic on global flavor trends.