Consumer Trends

Emerging ethnic flavors

Asian, Latin and Mediterranean have dominated the "ethnic" category on menus for at least a decade. Now, Datassential's data analysis of U.S. Chains and Independents in 2012 revealed that niche ingredients and flavors within these big three are emerging.

"Ethnic doesn't just mean teriyaki chicken or pad Thai. Instead, operators are moving past such traditional flavors and experimenting with new ingredients and dishes," the report stated. One example is Ram Restaurant & Brewery's Hog Heaven Burger with Korean-style pickled vegetables, daikon radish and cilantro. Other trending ingredients include:

  • Thai chili sauce, which has seen a 26% increase on the menus Datassential tracks. Its main ingredients are garlic, red chilies, fish sauce, tamarind paste, sugar and lime juice
  • Sriracha, which grew by 24%. This spicy-hot blend of chilies, garlic, vinegar, salt and sugar showed up in such items as Hard Rock Cafe's Shanghai Smokehouse Sandwich LTO. It includes Asian-style homemade pickles and Sriracha mayonnaise drizzle
  • Habaneros, the small, spicy orange-red peppers used in Caribbean and Latin cuisine, rose by 19% in menu mentions
  • Chimichurri, the herbal green sauce popular in Argentina and other South American countries, has grown by 15%
  • Mediterranean condiments, such as tzatziki and tapenade, have seen increases of 13% and 10% respectively

Members help make our journalism possible. Become a Restaurant Business member today and unlock exclusive benefits, including unlimited access to all of our content. Sign up here.

Multimedia

Exclusive Content

Financing

Saladworks-parent WOWorks is shopping for new brands to buy

The platform company is almost finished assimilating its existing six brands. Now it's time to add to the family, said CEO Kelly Roddy.

Financing

2 more reminders that the restaurant business is risky

The Bottom Line: Franchising is no less risky than opening your own restaurant. Just ask former NFL player David Tyree and the former president of McDonald's Mexico.

Marketing

There's plenty happening at the high end of the pricing barbell, too

Reality Check: Decadent meal choices are also proliferating, for a lot more than $5.

Trending

More from our partners