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Consumers willing to pay extra for authentic ethnic food

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A new report has found that more than a quarter of diners would be happy to pay more for ethnic food – as long as it is authentic

Every new year brings a flurry of predictions for the food trends expected to take off. Guessing what ingredients, meal or cuisine will take off becomes a competitive sport for market experts and observers.

Among the mooted predictions at the start of 2018 was that ethnic food would become more even more popular – 61% of respondents in the National Restaurant Association’s What’s Hot report thought so. From Italian pizza to Chinese bao buns, different kind of cuisines continue to excite diners.

Now insight firm Technomic has confirmed that diners have continued to expand their minds – and their palates – where trying new foods is concerned, but with the caveat that consumers would look for authentic offerings.

Based on insight from 1,400 respondents, Technomic’s 2018 Ethnic Food and Beverage Consumer Trend Report has found that 32% of consumers who ever order food with ethnic flavours would be willing to pay more for authentic ethnic cuisines.

Another 44% said they would always prefer completely authentic fare while 36% of respondents said they like to explore regional varieties of mainstream ethnic cuisines to try new foods and flavours.

Of course it can be a challenge to define exactly what authenticity looks like for different consumers, so a key take-away for operators is to be transparent and clear.

“Everyone’s definition of authentic is different, so when it comes to ethnic fare, it’s vital to clarify the flavour profile and ingredients upfront so consumers aren’t surprised or disappointed in their order,” explains Kelly Weikel, director of consumer insights at Technomic. “Additionally, ethnic options must feel accessible rather than intimidating and this can be achieved through providing flavour and sourcing information about each ethnic dish.”

Tina Nielsen