Latin cuisine has been a major driver of the bold flavors that are leading menu development today. Now that consumers see Mexican as mainstream, there’s room for niche cuisines and ingredients to make their way onto menus in a way that they may perceive as innovative. And research shows that innovative flavors keep customers coming back.
According to a new report by Rockville, Md.-based Packaged Facts, indigenous foods from South America hold the key to new opportunities in food service. In addition, ingredients from Peru, Brazil, Ecuador and their neighbors now are more readily available in the supply chain.
Through analysis of consumer insights and data within retail and food service trends, Packaged Facts pinpointed a number of South American products to watch:
- Aji peppers and rocoto. These colorful peppers will see expanded applications in sauces and snacks
- Purple corn and purple potato. Authenticity and health benefits will push up demand of these non-GMO vegetables
- Amaranth and pichuberry. Quinoa’s success story on mainstream menus has paved the way for other superfoods to make inroads with customers. Amaranth is an ancient grain; pichuberry, a health-promoting fruit
- Pisco and Caipirinha. The vibrant cocktail culture in the U.S. is a hotbed of experimentation, and these native spirits are drawing the attention of mixologists
As American diners continue to seek bold flavors and interesting global cuisines, undiscovered or underutilized South American ingredients can give menu makers an edge.