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National Restaurant Association - More consumers try Mediterranean cuisine

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More consumers try Mediterranean cuisine

While some ethnic cuisines are known to almost everyone in America, others have not yet entered the mainstream diet. That may be changing.

New research from the National Restaurant Association shows that the strongest growth in ethnic cuisines over the last 15 years has been among non-traditional cuisines.

“While the ‘big three’ – Italian, Mexican and Chinese – have retained their popularity over time, some lesser known cuisines have gained significant ground with consumers over the past decade and a half,” said Annika Stensson, director of research communications for the National Restaurant Association. 

“Mediterranean food is the big winner both when it comes to one-time trial and for eating frequently, but consumers are also increasingly trying Spanish, Caribbean and Middle Eastern. Sushi and sashimi have also gained in terms of eating frequently,” she said.

Comparing results from the recently released Global Palates: Ethnic Cuisines and Flavors in America report with a similar survey the NRA conducted in 1999, three primary trends emerge:

• Italian, Mexican and Chinese cuisines remain the most popular in the United States. The number of consumers who have tried them at least once is practically the same now as in 1999 at roughly nine in 10.

• The strongest increases in trial of various cuisines are in Mediterranean (+38 percentage points), Spanish (+28), Caribbean (+27), Middle Eastern (+24), French (+22) and Thai (+21).

• When it comes to consumers eating various cuisines frequently, the top gains are in Mediterranean (+11 percentage points), sushi/sashimi (+9), Spanish (+7), Japanese cuisine other than sushi (+6), and Middle Eastern (+6).

The new Global Palates report details consumers’ familiarity, trial and frequency of eating various cuisines, when and where they get them, plus findings by 30 individual and group cuisines and items.

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