American street food is big news. It’s appearing everywhere: on fine dining and fast casual menus, as the theme of food festivals and culinary conferences and, of course, served curbside in myriad forms. We’re not talking about the same old hot dogs or pretzels. In the last two years, street food has been reinvented and reinterpreted to reflect the changing ways Americans eat. It’s a veritable paradigm shift!
Street food is exploding due to the confluence of larger social trends. Because of the economic recession, out-of work culinary professionals and inspired home cooks have started micro-businesses selling food on the street, whether it be seasonal handheld fruit pies or savory Korean tacos.
Using fast-growing social networks such as Twitter and Facebook, budding entrepreneurs announce the menu and locale of the day to a growing crowd of tuned in consumers who are eager diners if not loyal “followers” or outright “fans.” Independent weekly newspapers and bloggers trumpet information about new vendors, many of whom network and set up in the same places, creating a sort of pop-up food court.
Influencing these events is the reality that we have become a nation of snackers, lovers of small plates and (now more than ever) a good bargain. We still want good food from good sources, food that’s in sync with our evolving attitudes about nutrition and the environment, but we want it fast, fun and handy.
This report profiles the significant street foods making headlines today, providing seven strategic trend translations to point readers to new opportunities:
The Culinary Trend Mapping Report is an indispensable tool for those whose job it is to stay abreast of what's hot - and what will be - in the food world.
The reports leverage the Center for Culinary Development’s (CCD) signature Trend Mapping technique, a validated method for identifying which culinary trends are gaining traction and which are simply flashes in the pan.
Each 65+ page journal is packed with trends, data, strategies and insights on the food industry that simply aren't available anywhere else.
Each Issue of the Culinary Trends Mapping Report
Trend Mapping is guided by the premise that major food trends pass through five distinct stages on their way to the mainstream:
Published bimonthly, the Culinary Trend Mapping Report is available for purchase as a single issue or a six-issue subscription.
In the News
Street Food Renaissance To Influence Consumer Eating Habits for Years
New York, April 28, 2010 - American street food is big news. In the last two years, street food in the U.S. has been reinvented and reinterpreted to reflect the changing ways Americans eat. This burgeoning street food renaissance will both influence and reinforce new consumer eating habits for years to come, according to Street Food: Culinary Trend Mapping Reportfrom the Center for Culinary Development (CCD) and Packaged Facts. Expect to see more small plate snacking, more food products sourced and prepared in eco-minded ways, and flavorful global food, all fast, fun and handy.
The street food explosion can be seen as a confluence of larger social trends. The economic downturn, consumers’ consequent need for more affordable food, the growing consumer snacking habit, a desire for global flavor adventure and interest in local, sustainable foods all come together in this emerging trend.
While street food hasn’t always been beloved by consumers, that attitude is clearly changing. Enticed by the convenience and affordability of street food, along with its often gourmet flavors and forms, consumers are flocking to their local lunch stands for fast but satisfying meals, as well as enjoying new low-cost global street food-inspired restaurants.
“Street food is changing the conversation around food by creating new, vibrant and diverse communities socially connected by a shared interest in a new way of eating. At various turns it is highbrow meets lowbrow, local and eco-friendly, socially conscious and globally diverse,” says CCD CEO Kimberly Egan. “Street foods provide another avenue for consumers to explore new flavor adventures at an accessible value.”
What’s driving new street food? Three major forces are driving the seven core street food trends CCD identified:
Going Gourmet: While fine-dining chefs are serving upgraded street food in restaurants or creating their own carts and trucks, new foodie entrepreneurs are making specialized, high-quality cuisine available on the go. Hot dogs are also getting a boost from better quality meat and a more diverse assortment of toppings, many with global roots.
Globalization: Street food is a global staple and today we are welcoming new versions stateside. Roman Porchetta, or stuffed and pork belly-wrapped pork roast, has become the hot choice for sandwiches and entrées at small cafés, independent restaurants and farmers markets. Indian Wraps and Chaat (portable snacks) are showing up in independent fast casual eateries nationwide, fusing Indian flavors and familiar handheld forms to put a new spin on traditional Indian fare. New Antojitos, or masa-based Latin street foods—the Venezuelan arepa, the Salvadoran pupusa and the Mexican huarache—combine convenience with flavor exploration and novel forms.
Street Food Fusion: The street food category has become a place of exciting fusion, whether it’s applying eco-minded virtues such as organic, sustainable, and locally sourced ingredients and earth-friendly vehicles to classic street foods like falafel, or having home cooks fuse favorite global flavors and forms, like satay, crepes and tacos, with more American ingredients and occasions.
For food marketers and others seeking to capitalize on this trend, accessibility, bold flavors, variety, affordability, sometimes better health and inherent portability are keys to successful trend translation into new strategic business opportunities.
The Culinary Trend Mapping Report is co-published by the Center for Culinary Development and Packaged Facts.
About the Center for Culinary Development - CCD is a full-service food and beverage strategic innovation company that successfully blends culinary creativity with consumer insights, trends and marketing expertise.
About Packaged Facts - Packaged Facts, a division of MarketResearch.com, publishes market intelligence on a wide range of consumer market topics, including consumer goods and retailing, foods and beverages, demographics, pet products and services, and financial products. Packaged Facts also offers a full range of custom research services.