U.S.-based chains accelerate menu launches in other parts of the world

Technomic’s latest Global Menu Innovation report reveals what’s trending from Argentina to the U.K.
Pizza Hut rice pizzas
Pizza Huts in Japan introduced crusts made with Japanese rice to hedge against high wheat prices./Photo courtesy of Pizza Hut Japan

American travelers stopping in at a McDonald’s or Papa Johns in another country are often surprised to see items that never make it to the menu back home.

Every quarter, Technomic’s Navigator Program tracks these items to reveal the food and drink trends emerging in U.S.-based chains around the world. Here are nine highlights from the Fall 2022 Global Menu Innovation report.

Argentina: The Philly

Wendy’s in Argentina transforms a classic Philly cheesesteak into a burger by layering beef patties with feta and melted cheddar cheese, topped with sauteed vegetables on a brioche bun. Philadelphia cheesesteak ingredients are increasingly finding their way onto burgers and pizza.

Brazil: Calabresa Burrito

A burrito LTO at Taco Bell in Brazil is filled with a local sausage: Linguica Calabresa. Also in the mix are more classic burrito ingredients, including rice, jalapeno, onion and cheese, all rolled up in a flour tortilla. The trend: localizing a mainstream menu item with a protein identified with the country’s cuisine.

Taco Bell burrito

Photo courtesy of Taco Bell Brazil

Chile: Cheesy Veggies

There’s no mention of pizza in the name of this menu item from Papa Johns in Chile. But these cheese bread sticks, often served as a side at pizza concepts in the States, get upgraded with premium ingredients. Guests can customize them with vegetables and sauces to add a chef-inspired touch, choosing from corn, onions, jalapenos, mushrooms, pineapple and black olives as well as pesto and barbecue sauces.

France: Chicken Harimous

Subway is ramping up menu innovation in the U.S., as evidenced by this summer’s launch of 12 chef-created sandwiches in the Subway Series. But France’s Chicken Harimous hasn’t yet crossed the Atlantic. This sub combines harissa-spiced chicken with creamy hummus, taking customers on a flavor adventure to North Africa and the Middle East.

India: Popcorn Nachos

The menu at KFC in India offers tortilla chips topped with popcorn chicken to create a multi-cultural snack or loaded side. The Doritos chips come covered with crunchy fried chicken bites, and are served with two sauces: masala salsa and cheesy jalapeno. Technomic predicts that inventive snacks and sides will grow as a menu category.

KFC Nachos

Photo courtesy of KFC India

Japan: Rice Pizza

Pizza Hut in Japan is dodging higher wheat prices with the addition of a rice pizza crust to its core menu. The dough is made from 100% domestic rice and comes in three global variations— Japanese, European and American—each featuring topping ingredients inspired by that country or region.

The Philippines: Plant-Based Breakfast Sandwich

Faux breakfast meats and vegan egg alternatives are popular components of plant-based breakfast sandwiches in the U.S. But Starbucks in the Philippines gets more creative, layering sauteed mushrooms and scrambled tofu instead of eggs, adding a plant-based breakfast meat, too. It comes on an eggless, dairy-free brioche bun for a completely vegan morning meal.

Singapore: Laksa Wraps

For a take on the fish sandwich that reflects Singapore’s cuisine, Long John Silver’s wraps spicy fried fish with butter lettuce, sliced tomato and half-boiled eggs, imparting local flavor with a coconut-accented laksa mayonnaise. It’s also available in a chicken version. Both reinterpret the flavors of laksa, Singapore’s signature noodle dish.

Shake Shack flavors three items with chili crisp in the U.K.

U.K: Sichuan-Inspired Chili Crisp Menu

Chili crisp, the spicy Chinese condiment that has grown on U.S. menus, is still relatively unknown in the U.K. To spread the word, Shake Shack teamed up with an L.A. brand, Fly by Jing, to launch three new items. The menu includes Chili Crisp Chicken with pickles, shredded lettuce and spring onion mayo; Chili Crisp Chicken Bites with spring onion-mayo sauce; and Chili Crisp Cheese Fries with Shake Shack’s cheese sauce.

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.


Exclusive Content


Pipedream wants to take restaurant pickup underground

The startup uses robots and tunnels to move food from kitchen to car. It believes it can one day connect entire cities.


As CosMc's takes off, McDonald's operators want a piece of the action

The Bottom Line: But where that action should take place is the question. Many operators believe the brand should be a testing ground for McDonald's own beverage program.


Bad weather returns as a restaurant sales problem

The Bottom Line: Snow and cold in January kept customers from visiting restaurants. Here's why this might be a bigger influence in the future.


More from our partners