Ethnic Food Trends for 2012

Ethnic food trends have been a topic of discussion in the industry lately. According to a recent Mintel report, an authentic flavor is the most important factor for consumers when buying or eating ethnic foods. Ethnic foodies also placed importance on all-natural, premium/gourmet or artisanal and reduced fat characteristics in their purchasing decisions.

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According to Mintel, a leading global supplier of consumer, product and media intelligence, ethnic food preparation and consumption have been on the rise over the past several years and will continue to grow. In 2011, ethnic food sales reached nearly $3 billion in sales due to an increasingly diverse population and more frequent home cooking.

When it comes to making ethnic fare at home, Mintel found that a majority of Americans cook Italian dishes. However, Italian cuisine has become so common in the U.S., it’s hardly considered ethnic anymore. Mexican and Chinese food are also common creations whipped up in Americans’ kitchens. There is even a small group of American’s cooking at home that feel one specific ethnicity of food isn’t enough, so they are going “fusion” by mixing elements from various culinary traditions.

Along with the common ethnic food offerings, Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cuisine have both seen robust growth in the past year. They are both expected to grow in popularity based on their healthy and convenient positioning.

In today’s market, Americans have more exposure to diverse cultures. So the bar is set high when it comes to what ethnic foods consumers will feel confident about incorporating into their home meal plans. Mintel stresses that marketers must focus on strong new products that will attract consumer attention and give an authentic dining experience that’s convenient and reasonably priced.