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National Restaurant Association - New Research Finds Americans are Embracing Global Cuisines on Restaurant Menus

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New Research Finds Americans are Embracing Global Cuisines on Restaurant Menus

  • 80 percent of consumers eat at least one ethnic cuisine per month
  • One third of consumers tried a new ethnic cuisine in the last year
  • Two-thirds of consumers eat a wider variety of ethnic cuisines now than five years ago
  • Italian, Mexican and Chinese reign supreme; Ethiopian, Brazilian and Korean are least known

(Washington, D.C.) The National Restaurant Association today issued new research that finds a wider variety of ethnic cuisines are increasingly becoming part of everyday American diets.

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.

For more information on the survey, including graphics and video, visit: http://www.restaurant.org/GlobalFlavors

“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, National Restaurant Association.

“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 added.

The survey finds that two-thirds of consumers say they’re eating a wider variety of ethnic cuisines now than they were just five years ago.  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.

Additional highlights from the survey include:

  • 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.
  • 80 percent of consumers eat at least one ethnic cuisine per month.
  • 17 percent of consumers eat seven or more cuisines on a monthly basis.
  • Nearly one-third of consumers tried a new ethnic cuisine in the past year.
  • The cuisines most commonly eaten on-premises at 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 Ethiopian, Mexican and Italian. Ethiopian is tops as convenience- and grocery-store takeout.

About the Survey

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. For more information, visit Restaurant.org/GlobalFlavors.



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Founded in 1919, the National Restaurant Association is the leading business association for the restaurant industry, which comprises more than 1 million restaurant and foodservice outlets and a workforce of 14.7 million employees. We represent the industry in Washington, D.C., and advocate on its behalf. We operate the industry's largest trade show (NRA Show May 20-23, 2017, in Chicago); leading food safety training and certification program (ServSafe); unique career-building high school program (the NRA Educational Foundation's ProStart); as well as the Kids LiveWell program promoting healthful kids' menu options. For more information, visit Restaurant.org and find us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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