Sponsored by Bush's Best
Young consumers have certain expectations for 2022. According to a recent report from YPulse, Gen Z are prioritizing their health, they want to be more adventurous, and they want to hang out with their friends more. Food plays a role in all of these, and foodservice operators are developing innovative foods, including many that incorporate on-trend global flavors, to satisfy this demand.
Gen Z diners are looking for less well-known, emerging cuisines from around the world. According to an October 2021 report from Datassential, 37% of survey participants ate a globally-influenced food – beyond mainstream Chinese, Italian, or Mexican – within the past week. Gen Z was the most adventurous group, with 58% saying they ate something globally-inspired, while 48% of millennials, 34% of Gen X, and only 19% of baby boomers did.
Operators can satisfy Gen Z’s demand for global flavors by adding a twist to familiar cuisines, introducing bold flavors from less-known regions, and combining flavors for an innovative mash-up. Here are some ways to leverage the latest flavor trends to appeal to this group of dining consumers.
Also according to Datassential, one trending flavor is Tajín, a Mexican spice that has a bright, citrusy taste with a subtle chili flavor. Recipe suggestions include sprinkling Tajín on roasted corn, tossing it with French fries, or adding it to fruits and vegetables, such as a garnish on a smoothie. Other flavors that are gaining popularity, according to Datassential, include Chiltepin Peppers, tiny hot red peppers that are native to North America.
“Consumers aren’t looking for something that is just hot or spicy, they are looking for heat that has depth of flavor and spunk versus a one toned note of heat,” says Ken Oakley, senior brand manager of foodservice for Bush’s Best. “Combining different chilis and spice forward ingredients indigenous to specific regions and countries lends the depth of flavor consumers are looking for that accentuate every other element of a given dish.”
Feature Plant Based
Gen Z is also seeking better-for-you foods, including plant-based and plant-forward menu items. According to Statista, in 2020 approximately 5.9% of Gen Z in the U.S. said they followed a vegetarian diet.
Beans are the perfect ingredient for plant-based dishes because beans have better-for-you attributes such as protein and fiber. They are also colorful, which makes the dish visually appealing, and are versatile and can be incorporated in a variety of dishes. That includes global cuisine, and in mashups that combine flavors of different regions. “The increased presence and demand for fusion cuisine in combination with the demand for more plant-forward food really allows the bean to shine in a fusion based globally inspired dish,” Oakley says.
Offer Emerging Cuisines Combined
While some plant-based menu items use meat analogs as ingredient substitutes, many globally-inspired menu items already have beans as the key protein, so no adaptation is needed. “For some countries, plant-centric cuisine is part of the culture,” Oakley says. “For example, in Indian and Mediterranean cuisine, beans are used as a native ingredient. Leveraging more beans on the menu can be done by gathering menu inspiration from some of the traditional dishes prepared in the countries with plant-centric cuisine like hummus, falafel and even a chickpea curry.”
Indian food includes not just curry but emerging trends such as street food, which includes chaat, or a savory fried dough snack with potatoes, coriander, chutney, and other ingredients.
Mediterranean food features fresh produce and often includes beans, such as spinach with white beans or bruschetta with beans and tomatoes, and can be menued as a bowl with grains, beans, and vegetables. Bibimbap, or Korean rice bowls with beans, rice, and vegetables are on-trend right now, as are steamed bread bao buns with beans and vegetables.
Pizza offers a great vehicle for combining global flavors. Indian pizza is gaining popularity, and combines mozzarella with tamarind, tikka masala, or other flavors. For a Korean theme, kimchi, or fermented vegetables, can work as a topping. Mediterranean ingredients such as garbanzo and pesto can offer a change from everyday pizza.
Gen Z is looking for variety, bold flavors, and plant-based foods, and operators can incorporate beans into many different menu items to satisfy this demand. Whether it’s a hot new flavor or an innovative combination of familiar flavors, globally inspired foods can help operators offer delicious, better-for-you foods.