Sorry for interrupting, this website uses cookies to improve your experience. We'll assume you're ok with this, but you can opt-out if you wish. Learn more
Accept & Close

US International Food Trends Market Report

Everything you need to make the right decisions

Providing the most comprehensive and up-to-date information and analysis of the International Food Trends market, and the behaviours, preferences and habits of the consumer.

Mintel has the answers you’re looking for

What are the key challenges facing the industry? Who is the consumer and what do they want? Where are the opportunities, where are the risks and what lies ahead?

Covered in this report

This report analyzes international food trends in both foodservice and retail by utilizing Mintel GNPD (Global New Products Database) and MMI (Mintel Menu Insights). This report also includes consumer behaviors/attitudes toward international foods in both foodservice and retail. This report builds upon analysis presented in Mintel’s International Flavor Trends – US, March 2018.

This report segments international food eaters into three user groups (see databook) to help illuminate the behaviors and attitudes of different types of international food customers throughout.

  • Frequent international food eaters: consume international foods daily or a few times a week
  • Moderate international food eaters: consume international foods once a week or a few times a month
  • Occasional international food eaters: consume them once a month or less

The term “international foods” is a gray area in both foodservice and retail. For the purposes of this report, Mintel defines it as:

  • Foods based upon/associated with international cuisines/dishes/ flavors (eg Korean BBQ sauce)
  • Foods with international/cultural origins outside the US (eg Korean bulgogi)
  • Foods that blend together different cuisines (eg Korean tacos)

Expert analysis from a specialist in the field

Written by Jill Failla, a leading analyst in the Foodservice sector, her extensive knowledge delivers in-depth commentary and analysis to highlight current trends and add expert context to the numbers.

International food adoption is a fairly slow process in the US, which prizes traditional Mexican, Italian, and Chinese fare above all else. However, factors are positioning international fare for continued future growth, including an increasingly diverse population that favors such cuisines; the need for restaurants and products to differentiate and innovate in a crowded marketplace; and the growing spending power of more adventurous young diners who enjoy trying new types of foods. Brands will need to be cautious about appropriating other cultures, straying too far from authentic ingredients and preparations, and entering categories that are already saturated. Jill Failla
Foodservice Analyst

What you get

What's included

Why buy from us?

Succeed

Our reports will provide you with market data, consumer research and competitive intelligence to succeed in your market.

Instant Access

Buy now and you'll have instant access to the information you need to make the right decisions.

Opportunities

Find out what's next in the markets that matter to you: where opportunities lie and what challenges you will face.

Trusted

A business Superbrand, Mintel is a source you can trust. We have been defining and refining the Market Intelligence mix since 1972.

Table of contents

  1. Overview

    • What you need to know
      • Definition
      • Executive Summary

        • The issues
          • Americans are slow to accept new international cuisines
            • Figure 1: Food attitudes, any agree, summer 2009-18
          • Younger consumers aren’t as smitten with Italian and Chinese cuisines as their older counterparts are
            • Figure 2: International food preferences – any type of purchase NET, by age, November 2018
          • Cultural appropriation is a growing concern
            • Figure 3: International food restaurant offerings, by race and Hispanic origin, November 2018
          • The opportunities
            • It’s the season for seasonings
              • Figure 4: Food attitudes, any agree, summer 2009-18
            • Younger consumers are more adventurous diners
              • Figure 5: International food consumption motivators, by age, November 2018
            • Asian and Hispanic consumers over index for international food consumption
              • Figure 6: International food consumption frequency, by race and Hispanic origin, November 2018
            • What it means
            • The Market – What You Need to Know

              • International cuisine adoption is slow
                • Consumers are embracing heavily spiced foods
                  • Populations of frequent international food eaters are outpacing those of less-frequent eaters
                  • Market Factors

                    • Consumers are increasingly diverse
                      • Figure 7: Population by race and Hispanic origin, 2013-23
                    • Employment is at all-time high among Hispanic populations
                      • Figure 8: Hispanic and National Labor Force Unemployment Rates, January 2007-November 2018
                    • Opportunity exists to convert unenthusiastic cooks with international products
                      • Figure 9: Share of cooking segments, 2016-2018
                    • Consumers increasingly prefer foods cooked with lots of spices
                      • Figure 10: Food attitudes, any agree, summer 2009-18
                  • Key Trends – What You Need to Know

                    • Ethnic fast-casuals proliferate
                      • Popular international cuisines may go regional to appeal to youth
                        • Restaurant-branded international CPG products gain traction
                        • What’s Working?

                          • Fast casual works as an approachable format for international foods
                            • Bowl Fusion
                              • American Indian
                                • Latin American
                                  • Asian
                                    • Food halls
                                      • Israeli cuisine proliferates
                                          • Figure 11: Trader Joe’s – Zhoug Sauce
                                        • Indian finally goes mainstream
                                          • CPG continues to innovate international offerings in several categories
                                            • Sauces
                                              • Condiments
                                                • Meals/entrees
                                                  • Snacks
                                                  • What’s Struggling?

                                                    • Is the Mediterranean bubble about to burst?
                                                      • Traditional international foods lose favor among young consumers
                                                        • Cultural appropriation becomes a growing concern for some
                                                        • What’s Next?

                                                          • Ayurveda
                                                            • International kids menus
                                                              • Japanese Omakase and Izakaya
                                                                • Omakase
                                                                  • Izakaya
                                                                    • African cuisines
                                                                      • Fast-Casual Fusion
                                                                        • Moroccan Crosses Categories
                                                                          • Figure 12: Hodo Moroccan Tofu Cubes
                                                                        • Ethiopian
                                                                          • Figure 13: Departure Snacks Ethiopian Berbere Dry-Roasted Almonds
                                                                        • South African
                                                                        • The Consumer – What You Need to Know

                                                                          • Most consumers would rather eat international foods at a restaurant than cook them
                                                                            • Mexican is more popular than Italian cuisine
                                                                              • Latin and African are emerging cuisines to watch
                                                                              • International Food Consumption

                                                                                • Over a quarter of consumers eat international foods a few times a month
                                                                                  • Figure 14: International food consumption frequency, November 2018
                                                                                • The frequent international food eater is a city-dwelling Millennial
                                                                                  • Figure 15: International food consumption frequency, by generation, November 2018
                                                                                  • Figure 16: International food consumption frequency, by location, November 2018
                                                                                • Asians and Hispanics are frequent international food eaters
                                                                                  • Figure 17: International food consumption frequency, by race and Hispanic origin, November 2018
                                                                                • Alyssa is a frequent international food eater
                                                                                  • Figure 18: International food consumption frequency, by consumer segmentation, November 2018
                                                                                • International cuisine consumption has declined slightly over last year
                                                                                  • Figure 19: International food consumption – net any consumption, November 2017-November 2018
                                                                              • International Food Consumption Motivators and Barriers

                                                                                • Cravings drive most international food purchases
                                                                                  • Figure 20: International food consumption motivators, November 2018
                                                                                • Younger consumers are most likely to eat international foods because they like trying new things
                                                                                  • Figure 21: International food consumption motivators, by age, November 2018
                                                                                • Asians and Hispanics enjoy eating the foods of their ethnic heritages
                                                                                  • Figure 22: International food consumption motivators, by race and Hispanic origin, November 2018
                                                                                • Lack of exposure is the top barrier to international cuisine consumption
                                                                                  • Figure 23: barriers to International food consumption, November 2018
                                                                              • International Food Preferences

                                                                                • Mexican, Italian, and Chinese are the top international cuisines
                                                                                    • Figure 24: International food preferences – any type of purchase NET, November 2018
                                                                                  • African cuisines remain unfamiliar to most consumers
                                                                                    • Figure 25: International food preferences – any type of purchase NET, November 2018
                                                                                  • Consumers are most likely to purchase international cuisines from a restaurant
                                                                                    • Figure 26: International food preferences – any cuisine type NET, November 2018
                                                                                  • Women especially prefer more traditional international cuisines
                                                                                    • Figure 27: International food preferences – Any type of purchase NET, by gender, November 2018
                                                                                  • Latin and African are emerging cuisines
                                                                                    • Figure 28: International food preferences – Any type of purchase NET, by age, November 2018
                                                                                  • Italian and Chinese food interest may eventually decline
                                                                                    • Figure 29: International food preferences – Any type of purchase NET, by age, November 2018
                                                                                  • Consumers show elevated interest in cuisines of their ethnic heritage
                                                                                    • Figure 30: International food preferences – Any type of purchase NET, by race and Hispanic origin, November 2018
                                                                                  • White and Hispanic consumers are equally interested in Mexican cuisine
                                                                                    • Figure 31: International food preferences – any type of purchase NET, by race and Hispanic origin, November 2018
                                                                                • International Food Retail Offerings

                                                                                  • Meal kits are an appealing format for international flavors
                                                                                    • Figure 32: International food retail offerings, November 2018
                                                                                  • Restaurant-branded international foods could help drive purchases among the youngest consumers
                                                                                    • Figure 33: International food retail offerings, by age, November 2018
                                                                                • International Food Restaurant Offerings

                                                                                  • Most consumers prioritize authenticity for international menu items
                                                                                    • Figure 34: International food restaurant offerings, November 2018
                                                                                  • Moms want to see more international kids menu items
                                                                                    • Figure 35: International food restaurant offerings, by gender, November 2018
                                                                                  • Younger consumers are most open to international fusion
                                                                                    • Figure 36: International food restaurant offerings, by age, November 2018
                                                                                  • Most Hispanic consumers want to see international kids menu items
                                                                                    • Figure 37: International food restaurant offerings, by race and Hispanic origin, November 2018
                                                                                  • Frequent international food eaters care the most about eating foods from chefs of the same ethnic heritage
                                                                                    • Figure 38: International food restaurant offerings, by international eater groups, November 2018
                                                                                • International Food Attitudes

                                                                                  • Street foods are an appealing way to introduce international flavors to consumers
                                                                                    • Figure 39: International food attitudes, November 2018
                                                                                  • Older consumers would much rather eat international foods at a restaurant than cook them
                                                                                    • Figure 40: International food attitudes, by age, November 2018
                                                                                  • Asian consumers are most interested in international street foods
                                                                                    • Figure 41: International food attitudes, by race and Hispanic origin, November 2018
                                                                                  • Roughly three fifths of moderate or occasional international food eaters would rather eat international foods at restaurants than at home
                                                                                    • Figure 42: International food attitudes, by international eater groups, November 2018
                                                                                • Appendix – Data Sources and Abbreviations

                                                                                  • Data sources
                                                                                    • Consumer survey data
                                                                                      • Abbreviations and terms
                                                                                        • Abbreviations
                                                                                          • Mintel Food and Drink Shopper Segmentation
                                                                                            • Terms