The global foods trend is heating up. According to recent surveys from Datassential, 87 percent of diners are ordering ethnic foods and more than half of all operators in the U.S. report they are menuing more ethnic ingredients than they were two years ago. The prevalence of this trend means that incorporating new flavors can significantly increase traffic and sales—but there are some challenges associated with trying to meet customer demand for these items.
“Authenticity is critical to the global foods experience,” says Paul Petraitis, foodservice marketing manager for Saputo Cheese USA Inc. “With consumers having more access to information about what is authentic, it’s important for chefs and operators to differentiate global dishes and concepts, especially as these options become more widespread.”
According to research from the NPD Group, 75 percent of adult consumers are interested in trying new foods, and restaurant guests across age groups have unprecedented adventurous palates. Restaurateurs can capitalize on this increased interest by implementing new recipes that incorporate global ingredients into familiar dishes. One way that many successful operators are embracing the ethnic foods trend is by leveraging different cheeses in order to create versatility across their menu.
“Cheese can provide flavor and functionality in foods of all kinds,” Petraitis says. “It helps knit together the flavors in a dish and enhances the experience for the consumer.”
Because cheese is prevalent across ethnic food types, it’s the perfect ingredient to elevate and differentiate dishes and provide authentic flavor to customers who are interested in trying new foods. With so many more consumers embracing bold flavors, using less familiar and regional cheese products can provide operators with an opportunity to attract and upsell customers.
“It’s all about finding the right cheese for the right menu idea,” Petraitis says. “Lesser-known cheese varieties like halloumi and Danish blue cheese have begun to appear on more and more menus due to global influences.”
It is essential for chefs and operators to embrace the ethnic foods trend in order to meet growing customer demands and to help drive traffic. One way that successful operators are implementing global dishes is by partnering with a single-source cheese provider such as Saputo Cheese USA Inc., which provides quality cheeses, including traditional Stella® parmesan cheese and Fontinella® cheese.
“Growing interest in global flavors will create opportunities for emerging specialty chains as well as established players who are looking to spice up their menus,” Petraitis says. *