Consumers Continue to Explore Culinary Diversity

American consumers place value on authentic experiences and restaurants specializing in individual cuisines.

American diets continue to include more ethnically diverse cuisines, according to a study from the National Restaurant Association.

In fact, 80 percent of consumers eat at least one ethnic cuisine per month, according to the Global Palates: Ethnic Cuisines and Flavors in America study. In addition, one third of consumers tried a new ethnic cuisine last year and two-thirds of consumers eat a wider variety of ethnic cuisines than five years ago.

Italian, Mexican and Chinese cuisines reign supreme in terms of familiarity, trial and frequency of eating, while consumers are least familiar with Ethiopian, Brazilian/Argentinian and Korean cuisines, according to the study. Restaurants are the primary point of access for trying new cuisines, as well as the source where frequent eaters typically get their ethnic food, the research found.

“Ethnic cuisines are a long-term trend on restaurant menus, with some being so common that they’re hardly considered ethnic anymore, while others are still relatively unknown. However, our research shows that consumers are exploring a range of international dishes these days,” said Annika Stensson, Director of Research Communications, National Restaurant Association.

“Americans generally are more willing to try new food than they were only a decade or so ago – especially in restaurants – underscoring that the typical consumer today is becoming more adventurous and sophisticated when it comes to different cuisines and flavors,” said Annika Stensson, Director of Research Communications, National Restaurant Association.

Other highlights from the study include:

  • ·American consumers place value on authentic experiences and restaurants specializing in individual cuisines, but are nearly equally as open to ethnic dishes on mainstream menus.
  • ·The cuisines most commonly eaten on-premises at restaurants are sushi, Thai, Vietnamese, Brazilian/Argentinian, Greek and Southeast Asian.
  • ·On the restaurant takeout and delivery side, Chinese is by far the most common, followed by Ethiopian, Mexican and Italian.
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