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National Restaurant Association - New research finds Americans embrace global cuisine

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New research finds Americans embrace global cuisine

New research from the National Restaurant Association released today found that a wider variety of ethnic cuisines are increasingly becoming part of everyday American diets.

“Americans generally are more willing to try new food than they were only a decade or so ago – especially in restaurants – underscoring that the typical consumer today is becoming more adventurous and sophisticated when it comes to different cuisines and flavors,” said Annika Stensson, director of research communications for the National Restaurant Association.

The NRA’s Global Palates: Ethnic Cuisines and Flavors in America study found that Italian, Mexican and Chinese cuisines reign supreme in terms of familiarity, trial and frequency of eating, while consumers are least familiar with Ethiopian, Brazilian/Argentinian and Korean cuisines.

“Ethnic cuisines are a long-term trend on restaurant menus, with some being so common that they’re hardly considered ethnic anymore, while others are still relatively unknown. However, our research shows that consumers are exploring a range of international dishes these days, “ Stensson said.

“In fact, two-thirds say they’re eating a wider variety of ethnic cuisines now than they were just five years ago.  And looking back a bit further, the strongest gains in popularity over the past 15 years has been in cuisines like Mediterranean, Middle Eastern, Spanish and sushi,” she added.

American consumers place value on authentic experiences and restaurants specializing in individual cuisines, but are nearly equally as open to ethnic dishes on mainstream menus, according to the study. This is further indication that food with roots in other parts of the world has become commonplace on American tables. Overall, 80 percent consumers eat at least one ethnic cuisine per month; 17 percent eat seven or more cuisines on a monthly basis.

In addition, nearly one-third of consumers tried a new ethnic cuisine in the past year. Restaurants are the primary point of access for trying new cuisines, as well as the source where frequent eaters typically get their ethnic food, the research found.

Overall, the cuisines most commonly eaten on-premises in restaurants are sushi, Thai, Vietnamese, Brazilian/Argentinian, Greek and Southeast Asian. On the restaurant takeout and delivery side, Chinese is by far the most common, followed by Mexican and Italian. Ethiopian is tops as convenience- and grocery-store takeout.

The survey of 1,011 adults, conducted in April 2015 by ORC International on behalf of the National Restaurant Association, asked how familiar Americans are with various ethnic and regional cuisines and items, where they typically eat them, and how they feel about those choices. Global Palates: Ethnic Cuisines and Flavors in America is available in the NRA’s online store. 

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