With palates becoming increasingly sophisticated, consumers are moving away from the traditional salt, sugar and fat tastes.
“I don’t pretend to say that consumers don’t still love these, but I do think there is a place for more sophistication of flavours. And of course, what is ethnic to me isn’t going to be ethnic to you or your neighbour. So use that term wisely and thoughtfully,” Cheatham says.
Filipino foods featured most prominently in this metatrend, followed by African and Japanese tastes and “spicier” foods.
“Spicy is of course a very relative term; I know that the Middle American will be different to the average Singapore foodie, but across the globe we are wanting spicier foods,” she says. “I think the desire for more powerful flavours really inspires people.”
The “ethnic” category is particularly popular among millennials, 45% of whom describe their taste preferences as “anything new and different,” according to Cheatham’s research.
A similar percentage of Chinese consumers say they want “adventurous tastes”—a figure that keeps on increasing, and is probably applicable to most global consumers, she adds.
Another growing trend is the melding of flavour profiles, often under the banner of hyperlocalisation, which represents the local food movement. Whereas Mexican food, for example, has been popular in its own right, now examples are being seen of Yucatan and Oaxacan dishes—both from regions within Mexico—appearing on shelves.
Elsewhere, food manufacturers have been marketing Indian tacos, satay burgers and even laksa leaf and cashew nut pesto pasta, a vegan dish.