Americans Choose from Global Menu

Discussion
Mar 22, 2006
George Anderson

By George Anderson


America is broadening its culinary horizons as the influence of television cooking shows, web sites and an increase in ethnic restaurants has many consumers commonly eating dishes once viewed as exotic by most of the population.


One of the trends that has grown out of this globalization of the American palate is that many consumers are using spicier ingredients in the foods they prepare and eat. The well-documented growing popularity of Latin American dishes has been joined by increased demand for those from Asia, the Middle East and North Africa.


According to a Forbes.com report, “Strong meats like goat and buffalo are more popular, along with Cajun and barbecue. So are specialty spices and condiments in a wider variety of bolder flavors, such as paprika, saffron and cumin.”


Moderator’s Comment: How is the broadening of the American palate affecting the food industry in America? Will the
food landscape from restaurants to the products stocked on supermarket shelves be decidedly different 10 years from now than it is today?

George Anderson – Moderator

Please practice The RetailWire Golden Rule when submitting your comments.

Join the Discussion!

8 Comments on "Americans Choose from Global Menu"


Sort by:   newest | oldest | most voted
Mark Lilien
Guest
14 years 11 months ago

The increasing assortment of ethnic foods has two results: (1) ethnic foods are getting changed to widen their appeal and (2) there is less and less shelf space available for duplicate copycat brands. Some customers are turned off by the Americanization (modification) of their traditional foods. And since no store has rubber walls, supermarkets need to cull the secondary and tertiary copycat brands. Great merchants have the guts to edit their assortments and the wisdom to do it profitably.

Bernice Hurst
Guest
14 years 11 months ago
Without in any way belittling a generation of celebrity chefs and fellow food writers, the real reason for the expansion of tastes and foods is down to immigration. As each new wave of immigrants settles in a new country they (a) look for the ingredients to prepare the dishes that they have grown up with, thereby introducing their new neighbours to new taste experiences and (b) open stores and restaurants to meet the demand of both the immigrants and those same new neighbours who are enjoying what they are learning. Over time, dishes evolve to accommodate their new audience as well as being adapted to changed ingredients depending on availability. Every step of that evolution creates opportunities for grocery stores to supply potential customers but it also means that what is on the shelves will gradually change as well. No one’s tastes can remain stagnant; life is organic even if the raw ingredients are not. My next book is actually on this very subject – the ways in which American cuisine and tastes have been… Read more »
Craig Sundstrom
Guest
14 years 11 months ago

America has been “broadening its culinary horizons” ever since Captain Smith et al stumbled ashore and gave up their mouldering provisions for fresh game (MMMMMM). I think we will continue to see formerly “worldly” dishes Americanized (ask your parents about how much of a novelty pizza once was), and changes will largely go unnoticed. In the end, rice is rice, whatever you season it with, and whatever brand it is.

Warren Thayer
Guest
14 years 11 months ago

Activists have been trying for some time to get nutritionals listed on restaurant menus. If and when that happens, it could alter some dining habits in different cuisines. Having researched this a little, I’m a bit more tentative in my selection of certain ethnic cuisines, seeing’s how a single meal can be two days’ worth of saturated fat or have cholesterol off the charts. A lot of supermarket packaged foods get hurt by having to reveal this info on their packaging, but restaurants get a free ride. Revealing this info on menus could slow down, or alter, some growth patterns we are seeing now. Not huge impact, but on the radar.

Camille P. Schuster, PhD.
Guest
14 years 11 months ago

The increase in the number and variety of ethnic restaurants has been mirrored by the increase in the number of ingredients and types of ethnic foods in grocery stores. Line extensions continue to increase and have proliferated in grocery stores. Since existing stores can not easily increase space, one possibility for the future will be that different stores will specialize in certain types of food and ingredients – those that their loyal customers want. Shopping may involve going to different stores to find particular ethnic food ingredients. In addition, there were will be more nutriceutical foods in grocery stores. Which nutriceuticals are available at a particular store will depend upon the loyal customers for that store.

Jeff Weitzman
Guest
Jeff Weitzman
14 years 11 months ago

Seems inevitable in our shrinking world. All the factors cited above that bring cross-cultural awareness will broaden the palate. It’s probably good for agriculture as well, as markets for more diverse crops and livestock lead to greater diversity and a healthier ecosystem. Camille has a good point about shelf space, however. Will we see more different types of foods and fewer brands of the same foods? I’m sure we’ll see a balance, along with increased specialty foods stores and more purchasing of shelf-stable ethnic foods, and even meats and produce, over the Internet.

The only true mystery is why, after more than half a century of Jewish migration, it is still so hard to find a truly fine corned beef and pastrami sandwich in Silicon Valley!

Rupa Ranganathan
Guest
Rupa Ranganathan
14 years 11 months ago

Yes, Camille is right. We see so many kinds of ethnic ingredients at food stores, that today, I no longer need to go to Little India to buy a bag of basmati rice. Even ready-to-eat packages with exotic Thai, Indian and other Asian foods can be picked up at the drug stores round the corner to add variety.

The food shows have done a lot to whet our appetites for global foods. As we examine the new-found lentil, or nibble at the strange looking pear, we also take a few small sips of a new cultural experience. From Chef Pepin on Univision to Simply Ming (and his mother), culinary experts teach us more than just food or cooking. They expand our horizons at a much deeper level.

David Zahn
Guest
14 years 11 months ago

Food has become entertainment for many and with the advent of people becoming increasingly more mobile across country borders and sampling the delicacies of other cultures, people migrating from one geography to another (within country and across time zones and country borders), and the shrinking globe by virtue of television, the internet, and travel – the melding, mixing, trying of different foods and preparations will continue.

It is exciting for the industry because it allows the retailer to become an educational extension and not just a merchant or peddler of products. Weave explanations of customs, history, and more along with the recipes, component ingredients, etc. alongside of the “tried and true” products that commonly are found on the shelves. Or, invite people to submit recipes, sample in aisles, etc. Much opportunity awaits…but it means changing the paradigm from grocer as place to purchase what you need to place to purchase things you did not even know you wanted.

wpDiscuz

Take Our Instant Poll

How much different will the products carried on supermarket store shelves be 10 years from now compared to what is currently on them today?

View Results

Loading ... Loading ...