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National Restaurant Association - Heritage influences how America eats, new research shows

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Heritage influences how America eats, new research shows

Personal preference and availability are strong influencers of which ethnic cuisines consumers tend to eat, but another factor also plays a role – ancestry.

“Many Americans trace their family history – whether established for generations or more recently rooted – beyond U.S. borders,” said Annika Stensson, director of research communications for the National Restaurant Association.

“Food is often deeply ingrained in culture. You may not be able to visit all the places around the globe from where your family originated, but sharing a meal of those cuisines right here at home is an accessible way to connect with your ancestry,” she said.

A new report by the National Restaurant Association found that 43 percent of Americans say the ethnic foods they like to eat are tied to their family ancestry or heritage.  Younger adults especially – 57 percent of 18- to 24-year-olds and 65 percent of millennials who are frequent ethnic cuisine eaters – say what they prefer to eat relates to where they and their families have roots.

Among those who say the ethnic food they like to eat is tied to their family’s ancestry or heritage, 43 percent say those choices are most influenced by Europe. Twenty percent say the United States and Canada most influence their food choices, and 17 percent say Latin America. 

The geographic areas that influence ethnic food choices vary dramatically by age. A majority of consumers 45 or older say their food choices have European ties, while one-quarter of younger consumers identify Latin America as the primary source.

The Global Palates: Ethnic Cuisines and Flavors in America 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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