Product developers have been taking inspiration from international cuisines for decades, and with good reason—consumers like them. For snack food developers, it’s an exciting time to be exploring new options influenced by forms, flavors and traditions coming from abroad. We know snacks are increasingly in demand and consumers are increasingly demanding about their snacks.
Since snacks are replacing meals, they need to be both satisfying and nutritious. They also need to be portable some of the time and sharable at others. And snacks must match a variety of moods and cravings, cravings which, by the way, increasingly revolve around the tasty, global foods consumers have discovered from exuberant restaurant going and travel. Snacks additionally need to speak several languages to meet the needs of multi-cultural consumers, such as the Latino and Asian communities.
Take a tour around the world with CCD Innovation and Packaged Facts in our joint report, Worldly Snacks, and discover for yourself some of the influential snacks consumers are embracing that can offer innovative inspiration for new alluring menu items and exciting packaged foods. CCD Innovation’s signature Trend Mapping technique tracks significant developments in worldly snacks across five stages:
Stage 1: Brazilian Brigadeiros
As a sweet snack brigadeiros have a lot going for them. This iconic recipe has few ingredients and has grown in popularity on recipe websites since they are so easy to make. This familiarity with home cooks will assist marketers who choose to introduce them, whether in grocery store dessert cases, on the shelf or on a menu, especially for coffeehouses.
Stage 1: Asian Bar Snacking
What’s the next big thing in Asian cuisine? Asian bar snack spots: Informal Japanese and Korean joints selling small portions and strong drinks. A part of Japanese and Korean culture for centuries, these watering holes of the working class are catching on in the United States as a popular new dining trend. The willingness of young, flavor-loving consumers to line up for both classic and fusion Japanese and Korean bar food bodes well for cross-over appeal in several foodservice categories, especially trend-forward fast-casual restaurants.
Stage 2: Crunchy Ancient Grains
There’s growing interest in heirloom foods, and adapting ancient grains for snacks reflects that trend. It also dovetails with the increasing population of eaters who have food allergies or gluten intolerance, and who are searching for alternatives to wheat. Adding ancient grains to cookies, savory snacks such as crackers or chips, and bars offer product manufacturers a chance to stand out with unique textures and flavor profiles in familiar snack places.
Stage 2: Indian-Inspired Munchies
Many popular global snack items get their start on the street, served by mobile food vendors peddling tasty morsels on the go for just the right price. India may be snack central for street-inspired small bites, and there has long been an India-to-Rest of World snack route, including to hungry American consumers, whether via the frozen food case for filled and fried favorites like samosas, or through the windows of colorful street food trucks and carts. Around the U.S., food trucks, pop-up restaurants and brick-and-mortar joints have all been serving traditional Indian foods as well as some re-imagined with a modern American spin.
Stage 3: Sicilian Arancini
Being such fun-loving cousins to fried cheese sticks, croquettes and other styles of fried appetizers, it is surprising arancini haven’t spread farther and faster into mainstream grocery and foodservice. Their Italian heritage and familiar base ingredients, including beloved gooey, melted cheese, make them a sure win with kids, teenagers and indulgence-prone snackers of any age. The inclusion of toothsome rice, in addition to fried breading and cheese fillings, make this snack a bit more meal-like than other styles of fried starters. The built-in variability allows both restaurants and frozen food manufacturers to change up fillings for a line of traditional Italian flavors (think fontina, gorgonzola or ricotta) or more adventurous, cross-cultural mash-ups.
Stage 5: Mexican Takis
These crunchy packaged Mexican snacks—a fried, rolled corn tortilla chip that comes in five flavors—have found a following among city-dwelling tweens and teens who crave the snack’s spicy-salty taste and satisfying crunch. At $2 a pop for a large bag, Takis are just within the financial reach of kids, and they’re sold at corner convenience stores that they tend to frequent. On a grander scale, Takis are playing in the mainstream snack arena, already inspiring intensely flavored imitations from Frito-Lay and private label producers. Clearly, bold, globally flavored snacks will be taking up more shelf space in the snack aisles in years to come.
Stage 5: Old World Pistachios
It’s clear that the pistachio, now available domestically in greater quantities and with an impressive nutrient profile, is a bright new star in snacks of all types, both sweet and savory. Yet pistachios also have a unique ability among less glamorous nuts to stand out as a global ingredient. They are increasingly showing up in recipes and food products with their native Mediterranean, Middle Eastern and even Indian roots re-vivified. As American consumers continue delving into global culinary traditions in search of new flavors and cultural experiences, pistachios represent a unique opportunity to introduce savvy eaters to new food adventures with Old World colors.
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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 CCD Innovation’s 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. To further enrich our already industry leading analysis, our reports now include new charts, listings, and other features based on results culled from Datassential MenuTrends, a database that tracks 7,000 distinct U.S. restaurants and over one million menu items.
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: