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Street food drives big opportunity for restaurants

Photograph: Shutterstock

Over the last decade, the rise of food trucks and TV shows highlighting the authentic options sold at ethnic food fairs have put street food on the map.

And today’s consumers are seeking it out—especially younger diners. They’ve grown up in a more ethnically diverse society compared to earlier generations, and they’ve developed a taste for different flavors. In fact, Technomic’s 2018 Ethnic Food and Beverage Consumer Trend Reportreveals that 40% of younger diners are very likely to order ethnic street foods.

While many street foods have long been offered by outdoor food trucks and vendors, more and more street food choices are being made available indoors at brick-and-mortar restaurants.   

Street food opens avenue for creativity

Restaurant operators are recognizing that diners want new options, and they’re stepping up to the plate. This growing desire for new flavors is pushing restaurant operators to spice things up with dishes such as Korean barbecue beef sandwiches or tacos al pastor.

This ability to experiment with new menu choices and introduce new regions and flavors also provides a great opportunity for offering specials and keeping customers engaged. Just the term “street food” can bring fun images and craveable food to mind. For example, street food carriers are usually minimalistic and meant to be eaten on-the-go. Whether it’s a gyros wrapped in paper or something on a stick, it’s easy for restaurants to try out new and creative ways to serve street food to make the experience more authentic.

Turning dining into an adventure is great for keeping consumers interested, too. Part of that adventure is offering authentic ethnic flavors and cuisines. By introducing new or unique flavors in a familiar format, consumers are more likely to try out something new—and come back for more!

Withconsumers’ eating habits shifting away from the traditional three-meals-a-day, restaurants are offering more and more snacks. What’s more,younger consumers are especially in favor of having more ethnic snack choices, with 42% of Gen Zers expressing interest in seeing more international street foods on menus, according to Technomic’s 2018 Snacking Occasion Consumer Trend Report. Restaurants can offer smaller portions for mid-day or late-night snacks, and street foods make it easy to adapt to those desires.

Explore new flavors and formats

A key takeaway from Technomic’s 2018 Flavor Consumer Trend Reportreveals that while traditional global fare such as Mexican, Chinese and Italian continue to have a broad appeal, diners want more—specifically when it comes to Latin, Asian and Mediterranean influences. And they’re willing to pay more, too. Technomic’s 2018 Ethnic Food and Beverage Consumer Trend Report finds that 32% of consumers are willing to pay extra for authentic ethnic fare. 

Additionally, plant-based proteins are on the rise. According to Technomic’s 2018 Healthy Eating Consumer Trend Report notes that 30% of consumers 18- to 34-years old say that when they want to order healthy items, they look for vegan or vegetarian items, and according to Datassential’s 2018 MenuTrends, there has been an 800% increase in plant-based menu items compared to four years ago. Branch out on the menu with a plant-based option like a meatless slider made with Kronos Meat-less Meatloaf, featuring Lightlife plant-based ground protein.

When it comes to ethnic choices, go Greek with gyros or kabobs or introduce flavors from the Middle East by offering mouth-watering beef or chicken shawarma entrees, complete with pita, rice and other sides like tabbouleh. Beyond that, don’t forget to offer vegetarian or plant-based options.

With expanded options presented in handheld or portable formats, it’s easy to find a place on the menu for popular global street foods.

This post is sponsored by Kronos Foods

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