According to new research from Mintel, ethnic food preparation and consumption, which has been on the rise over the past several years, is likely to continue its growth, and in this category, authenticity is most important to the consumers who favor ethnic foods. Mintel notes that two-thirds of its respondents who eat ethnic food at home say authentic or traditional flavors are the most important factor when buying or eating ethnic food.
“If flavor fanatics are going to spend their hard earned money and time visiting an ethnic restaurant or buying international foods to prepare at home, increasingly, they want it to be the real deal,” says David Browne, senior analyst at Mintel. “Therefore, products positioned as such have a greater likelihood of finding favor with consumers.”
Aside from an authentic flavor, ethnic foodies also place importance on all-natural (49%), premium/gourmet or artisanal (49%) and reduced fat (48%) positional claims, which round out the top characteristics overall that matter in the purchase decision.
"This interest in genuine ethnic fare aligns with a broader consumer trend, ‘The Real Thing,’ where we see consumers continually set a higher bar for what they consider authentic,” says Alexandra Smith, director of consumer trends, Mintel. “Today's American has much greater exposure to diverse cultures than an American 20 years ago. And as once-exotic things like sushi or yoga become mainstream, we seek new, more niche markers of cultural authenticity."
When making ethnic fare at home, 70% of Mintel respondents say they made Italian food in the past 30 days. However, Italian food has become so common place in the US, it is hardly considered ethnic anymore. Nearly two-thirds (63%) of people have made Mexican food, followed by 46% who whipped up a Chinese creation. Twenty-nine percent of home cooks felt like one type of food wasn’t enough and decided to go “fusion,” mixing elements from various culinary traditions while not fitting specifically into any.