Americans Say: More Ethnic Food, Please

Few consumers are satisfied with the ethnic cuisine offered at chain restaurants.

Summer blockbuster The Avengers may have piqued interest in shawarma-serving restaurants – it’s a Middle Eastern meat specialty – but a new survey says consumers can’t find all the exotic flavors they want.

Technomic surveyed more than 1,500 consumers about ethnic food and found only a quarter of people were satisfied with the options at chain restaurants. The findings…

  • 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.”
  • 33 percent of consumers strongly agree 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 flavorful Thai, Vietnamese, or Indonesian twist on sauces, dressings, and ingredients.

In particular, most consumers (75 percent) want ethnic food options at dinner-time. Only 19 percent want an exotic breakfast.

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