International Flavors Go Far with U.S. Snackers

Posted in Millennials on July 21, 2016


The economy isn’t the only thing that’s gone global; so have snack trends, which increasingly reflect an international influence as flavors become more varied.

Just as Bollywood is spicing up movies with colorful musical extravaganzas, American snacks with an Indian twist are making our taste buds dance. Curry used to be on more adventurous dinner menus; now it’s not only commonplace, but similarly spicy and complex flavors are cropping up throughout the snacking industry. Like Americans, Indians are fond of snacks, known in India as “chaats,” which are currying favor with U.S. consumers. Many chaat-like snacks have found their way to the American market, including curry kale chips, spice-infused crunchy chickpeas, and popcorn flavored with saffron and rose water. 2

Passport to Flavor – and Profits

Internationally inspired snacks have become a popular passport to flavor, heating up palates with delectably diverse ethnic fare that combines big flavors in bite-sized form. From spicy spins on hummus to chili-citrus or mango-chili-lime chips, these treats are taking center stage in snacking aisles across the country. For people with a taste for the exotic, ethnic blends of spicy-salty-savory flavors can be a welcome escape from the same-old, same-old snacks.

Viva La Snacking Revolución

As Cuba opens up to the world again, its cuisine exerts more of an influence on snacking in the states. Food Business News reports that in addition to spicy favorites from India and Thailand, traditional Cuban dishes and desserts will gain popularity as travel to Cuba becomes more frequent. Flavors finding favor range from Avocado, green olive, plantain, dark rum, and guava, to key lime, mango, paprika, sofrito, and sour orange.

Food Business News cites many examples of spicy, savory and tropical fruit snacks that are part of the Cuban-inspired snacking revolution to hit the states.2

Bet on Bitter

As Baum + Whitman report, tart + bitter is becoming a big snacking trend, toppling sugar and salt from their pedestal.1 That could explain why packages of kale, crunchy broccoli and other vegetable chips are appearing on food store shelves everywhere. Popped grain bars with dark chocolate are another example of the bitter-is-better trend, which has seeped into the beverage market as well, popularizing new forms of coffee, like cold brew or carbonated, and teas like matcha.

Sweet Heat: Opposites Attract

Always a driving force in snacking trends, millennials have a passion for authentic, regional cuisines that kick up the flavor with intriguing combos of ingredients. As trends move into Asia, watch for Korea to be a popular source of inspiration.3 Gochujang, a Korean condiment made from red chili and fermented for a tantalizing twist of savory-spicy-pungent, is leading the way for other flavor bursts from that region.

Food Processing magazine advises that sweet heat will continue to trend as spiciness is increasingly tempered with ethnic variations that include sweetness and acidity.3 Raspberry and passion fruit paired with chipotle and habanero? Opposites attract, much to the delight of consumers in search of new and intriguing couplings of cuisines.

How has the growing interest in ethnic flavors and exotic combos affected your business? Give us a taste of what you’ve been experiencing below.

1 Baum + Whitman “11 Hottest Food & Beverage Dining Trends in Restaurants and Hotels” 2016.
2 Food Business News, “Snack Flavor Trends” 2016.
3 Food Processing, “Ingredient Trends 2016: Fierce Flavors, Imaginative Ingredients” 2016.

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