According to the NPD Group, ethnic baked foods — and the flavors they bring — are changing the way people eat. Cultural influences and U.S. consumers’ more adventurous taste buds have made flavors like tikka masala, poblano and doenjang recognizable names on supermarket shelves and restaurant menus, said Nico Roesler, managing editor, in Baking & Snack’s February issue.
“The affinity U.S. consumers have for ethnic flavors and dishes is supported by the fact that 75% of U.S. adults — especially young adults — are open to trying new foods,” the NPD Group reported.
As ethnic baked foods and snacks become more ubiquitous in American culture, opportunities abound.
“There’s an increasing demand for ethnic foods from the American population in general, regardless of background or ethnicity,” said Warren Stoll, marketing director for Kontos Foods. “And there’s a lot of crossover because everyone knows about all these other cultures, and they want those foods. They’re exotic; they’re exciting; they’re tasteful and spicy.”
In addition to its core Mediterranean offerings, Kontos branched out with a diversified line of Hispanic pan plano breads featuring flavor blends that include pico de gallo, cilantro, chipotle and lime. Other bread types like naan, tandoori and misi roti are Indian varieties that offer an entirely different experience. Meanwhile, Mintel reports sales of international food types grew 19% from 2011 to 2016 and reached $10 billion in 2016.
While adoption of familiar international food types is strong, the report stated, consumers are more likely to eat international food in food service environments than to purchase or prepare for at-home consumption. That said, frequent exposure to international food, through shifting U.S. demographics and increased appearance on U.S. menus, will help drive growth in other sectors.