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National Restaurant Association - How adventurous are American diners?

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How adventurous are American diners?

New National Restaurant Association research found that while most American consumers eat a variety of ethnic cuisines on a regular basis, only one in five actually call themselves adventurous when it comes to ordering food in a restaurant.

“Two-thirds of Americans say they eat a wider variety of international cuisines now than they did just five years ago and a quarter even say they like to explore unconventional food, yet a majority of consumers see themselves as more experimental than adventurous,” said Annika Stensson, director of research communications for the National Restaurant Association.

“The trend toward broadening taste buds remains strong, but what might be considered ‘adventurous’ is evolving with the changing culinary landscape and consumers’ dining experiences,” she said.

The NRA’s Global Palates: Ethnic Cuisines and Flavors in America report breaks into three categories how consumers describe their typical restaurant ordering habits: Experimental Diners, Stay-in-lane Diners and Adventurous Diners.

• The largest at 56 percent is the Experimental category, described in the report as being open to trying new dishes occasionally. Older consumers and those in the Midwest are more likely to identify this way.

• About a quarter (24 percent) of consumers identify with the Stay-in-lane category, meaning they prefer to order dishes they’ve had before and know they like. This category is generally consistent across demographic groups. 

• Twenty percent of consumers say they are Adventurous Diners, described as really enjoying trying new dishes they haven’t had before. Younger consumers and adults with children are more likely to fall into this category.

There are still ways to entice less adventurous diners into trying something new, as 80 percent of consumers say they’d be willing to try an ethnic food item offered by their favorite restaurant even if it were different from the type of food the restaurant typically serves – even Stay-in-lane Diners are more likely than not to consider trying it. 

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