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Defining Ethnic Food - US - August 2015

Consumers are embracing a host of ethnic cuisines and, in the process, are expecting those dishes to deliver not only more flavor than mainstream foods but also specific attributes by cuisine. Mexican and Latin American dishes appear to be the domain of spicier flavor profiles, while Mediterranean and Thai offerings merge novel flavors, a greater array of fruits and vegetables, and more healthy attributes, just to cite a few cuisines. The term "ethnic" appears by no means to be derogative or belittling and, instead, as more a means of classification and better quantifying consumer expectations and, particularly in the case of older generations, distinguishing the familiar. To consumers, the use of “ethnic” as a descriptor is more a means of categorizing specific foods as unique and different than what they regard as traditional fare.

This report looks at the following areas:

  • Consumers, overall, embracing only a few ethnic cuisines
  • Social media impacts Millennial exposure to ethnic foods

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Table of contents

  1. Overview

    • What you need to know
      • Definition
      • Executive Summary

        • The issues
          • Consumers, overall, embracing only a few ethnic cuisines
            • Figure 1: Consumption/preparation of ethnic/international foods (any consumption in parentheses), April 2015
          • Social media impacts Millennial exposure to ethnic foods
            • Figure 2: Learning about ethnic foods, by generation, April 2015
          • The opportunities
            • Ethnic, as a term, sets consumer expectations
              • Figure 3: International/regional cuisines considered most ethnic, by generation, April 2015
            • Immigration may compel increased interest in ethnic options
              • Figure 4: Opinions of ethnic foods, by Hispanic origin, April 2015
            • Spicy tied not only to ethnic but to a host of new product launches
              • Figure 5: New food/drink products featuring spicy/pepper flavors, 2010-14
            • Children, the future of ethnic cuisine diversity
              • Figure 6: Consumption/preparation of ethnic/international foods, by children in household, April 2015
            • What it means
            • Market Factors

              • Immigration among factors adding to consumers’ diverse palates
                • Figure 7: Foreign-born consumers in the US, by country/region of origin, 2012
                • Figure 8: Country of origin of most legal US immigrants aside from Mexico, 2012
              • Travel influencing consumer interest in international cuisines
                • Figure 9: US consumer travel internationally, in thousands, 2005-14
                • Figure 10: Status of ethnic flavor profiles among US consumers, February 2015
            • The Consumer – What You Need to Know

              • Millennials embrace a variety of ethnic foods
                • Consumer expectations from ‘ethnic’
                  • Children impact the healthy perception of ethnic
                  • Italian Leads Most Popular Ethnic Cuisines

                    • Millennials embrace variety of options
                      • Figure 11: Consumption/preparation of ethnic/international foods (any consumption in parentheses), April 2015
                  • Mexican Meals Resonating Strongly with All Consumers

                    • Millennials, Gen X leading interest in non-Mexican Hispanic and Spanish cuisines
                        • Figure 12: Consumption/preparation of ethnic/international foods, by generation, April 2015
                    • Millennials Exploring Asian Options Beyond Chinese, Japanese

                      • Thai, Korean foods not yet resonating with older consumers
                        • Figure 13: Consumption/preparation of ethnic/international foods, by generation, April 2015
                    • Millennials Demonstrating Strong Interest in Indian, Middle Eastern Foods

                      • Greek cuisine has potential to draw upon its Mediterranean roots
                        • Figure 14: Consumption/preparation of ethnic/international foods, by generation, April 2015
                    • Consumers Perceive Ethnic Foods as Less Artificial and More Flavorful

                      • “Ethnic” relates to cuisines outside the routine
                          • Figure 15: Defining ‘ethnic,’ April 2015
                          • Figure 16: Behaviors and attitudes toward ethnic items, August 2014
                      • Restaurants Fuel Most Awareness of Ethnic Cuisines

                        • Non-Millennials learn more from restaurants, while Millennials also discover ethnic options from new media
                          • Figure 17: Learning about ethnic foods, by generation, April 2015
                          • Figure 18: Learning about ethnic foods, by presence/age of children in household, April 2015
                      • Ethnic Foods Flavorful, But Not Necessarily Spicy

                        • Ethnic not the same as foreign
                          • Figure 19: Defining ‘ethnic,’ April 2015
                          • Figure 20: Opinions relating to ethnic foods, Winter 2012-Winter 2015
                      • Cuisines Considered Most Ethnic

                        • Consumers regard ethnic brands as a point of differentiation
                          • Figure 21: International/regional cuisines considered most ethnic, by generation, April 2015
                          • Figure 22: International/regional cuisines considered most ethnic, by Hispanic origin, April 2015
                      • Ethnic Flavor Profiles by Generation

                        • Older consumers more likely to seek sweet and sour in ethnic foods
                          • Figure 23: Flavors associated with ethnic foods, by generation, April 2015
                      • Hispanic Opinions of Ethnic Foods

                        • Potential emotional attachment to ethnic varieties and brands
                            • Figure 24: Opinions of ethnic foods, by Hispanic origin, April 2015
                            • Figure 25: Authenticity of ethnic items, by Hispanic origin, August 2014
                        • Spicy Helps Define Ethnic Options

                          • ‘Savory’ and ‘tangy’ of notable interest to non-Hispanics
                            • Figure 26: Flavors associated with ethnic foods, by Hispanic origin, April 2015
                            • Figure 27: New food/drink products featuring spicy/pepper flavors, 2010-14
                        • Households with Children Consume a Variety of Ethnic Foods

                          • These households also skew younger overall, into age demographics more open to ethnic cuisines of all types
                            • Figure 28: Consumption/preparation of ethnic/international foods, by children in household, April 2015
                            • Figure 29: US households, by presence of own children, 2003-13
                        • Health and Ethnic Foods

                          • Households with children more likely to regard ethnic as healthy
                            • Figure 30: Defining ‘ethnic,’ April 2015
                            • Figure 31: Opinions of ethnic foods, any agree, by presence and age of children in household, April 2015
                        • Correspondence Analysis – Defining Ethnic Food – August 2015

                            • Italian essentially a staple in the home
                              • Figure 32: Correspondence Analysis – Consumption/preparation of ethnic/international foods, April 2015
                              • Figure 33: Consumption/preparation of ethnic cuisines, April 2015
                            • Expanding the variety of retail meals
                            • Consumer Segmentation

                                • Figure 34: Consumers of ethnic foods, April 2015
                              • Group one: Embracing Ethnic
                                • Opportunities
                                    • Figure 35: Opinions of ethnic foods, by target group, any agree, April 2015
                                  • Group two: Seeking Scratch-made Ethnic Foods
                                    • Opportunities
                                        • Figure 36: Opinions of ethnic foods, by target group, any agree, April 2015
                                      • Group three: Healthy Ethnic Aficionados
                                        • Opportunities
                                            • Figure 37: Opinions of ethnic foods, by target group, any agree, April 2015
                                        • Appendix – Data Sources and Abbreviations

                                          • Data sources
                                            • Consumer survey data
                                              • Abbreviations and terms
                                                • Abbreviations
                                                • Appendix – Methodology for Correspondence Analysis

                                                  Companies Covered

                                                  • Walmart Stores (USA)

                                                  Defining Ethnic Food - US - August 2015

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