The consumer demands that are impacting menus in U.S. restaurants—ingredient transparency, customization, snacking and plant-forward plates—are also trending in other parts of the world, according to Technomic’s global polling results. The data reveals that the world is indeed becoming smaller in terms of consumers’ preferences—and how operators are responding. These global megatrends prove it.
1. Make it real
“Fresh” is a compelling selling point, with 90% of consumers saying they would be more likely to purchase a menu item described as fresh. Clean labels and transparency also are worldwide desires, with around 75% of consumers strongly agreeing that restaurants should be more open about ingredient sourcing. The demand for transparency is highest in India and Mexico, while Latin Americans prioritize freshness and Europeans rate local a top purchase driver.
Naif Chicken in Kuwait checks off several of these boxes: It sources halal chickens fresh from its own hatchery and farms, where the birds are fed a vegetarian diet. The chain promotes these attributes on its menu.
2. Take it to the streets
Almost 75% of consumers across the globe say that they snack at least once a day, with snacking most prevalent in Middle Eastern countries. Street foods, a strong tradition in that part of the world as well as Asia and Latin America, fit naturally into the snacking lifestyle. U.S. restaurants are jumping on this trend, adapting items such as satays, empanadas, falafel and bao buns for snack menus. Operators abroad also are taking the trend inside, adding street food-inspired snacks to the lineup, says Aaron Jourden, Technomic’s senior research manager, global.
KFC in South Korea introduced an LTO snack of tteokbokki, an authentic Korean street food. The spicy stir-fried rice cakes feature KFC’s signature seasoning.
3. Put plants out front
Technomic’s poll reveals that 34% of consumers around the world purchase vegetarian items in restaurants and 28% seek out vegan fare. Asians have the largest demand, with 44% opting for vegetarian choices, but plant-based eating is also on the rise in meat-centric cultures such as Brazil and Great Britain.
Domino’s is offering a vegan mozzarella as a cheese option on pizzas in its locations in Australia.
4. Tech-enabled focus on customization
The ability to customize a meal is a priority for about 33% of global consumers, but it is admittedly more important in some countries than others. The build-your-own model is most popular in India, Colombia, Mexico and Saudi Arabia. Technology is making it more convenient to customize meals, especially when ordering from kiosks and mobile apps. This trend, on an upward trajectory in the U.S., is also impacting customers in global foodservice operations, says Jourden.
CoolBlog in Malaysia allows customers to mix and match 25 flavors through touchscreens on self-service kiosks, creating a multitude of smoothie and ice-blended beverage variations.