Chain Operators Should Look East for Asian Inspiration

Asian cuisine provides an opportunity for chain operators to grow their market share, according to a recent report by Technomic.

Today’s diners are more familiar with Asian cuisine than ever before, as Thai, Japanese, Vietnamese, Korean, Indian and regional varieties of Chinese cuisines have become commonplace on menus across the country. But Asian concepts still occupy a relatively small share of the top 500 restaurant chains in the U.S., leaving room for chain operators to grow their market share, perhaps more than any other dining segment.

“Looking at sales and unit numbers, we see that established Asian concepts have been able to grow, while newer Asian concepts have also been emerging,” says Mary Chapman, director at Technomic.

“Both limited- and full-service Asian concepts within the top 500 were even able to grow sales and unit counts through a sluggish economy, signaling strong opportunities for chains within this underrepresented segment.”

Chapman points to the emergence of Chipotle’s new Asian fast-casual concept as an indication of things to come in the segment, and also feels that traditional varied-menu chain operators can benefit from consumer familiarity with Asian cuisines by adding new appetizers and entrees to their menus.

To help restaurant operators and others aligned with the foodservice industry understand where growth opportunities exist in Asian cuisine, Technomic has developed the Market Intelligence Report: Asian.

Report findings include:

  • Among the top 250 restaurant chains, there were 19 percent more Asian items on menus in the second half of 2010 compared with the same period one year earlier. 

  • Between 2008 and 2010, the number of consumers who said they would be very likely to order a Chinese-style beef dish at a restaurant increased from 30 to 46 percent.
  • Fifty-eight percent of surveyed consumers have tried and liked Asian sauces (teriyaki, soy, sweet and sour, Szechuan). These sauces were second only to barbecue in the number of consumers who said they had tried and liked an Asian sauce with a pork dish.

News and information presented in this release has not been corroborated by WTWH Media LLC.