Posted: September 26, 2022 Author: Rachael Jarzembowski, Marketing Manager
Spiced by a world of influence
“Caribbean cuisine” is used as a catchall for the many culinary traditions found in this tropical region, yet it does not accurately portray all of their diversity. Each island or territory – and there are hundreds – has its own unique cuisine and traditions. All of which have been impacted by the ebb and flow of the peoples who have passed through or made the islands home. Caribbean cuisine teems with global influences from far-flung places that have coalesced, resulting in one of the world’s most notable syncretic cuisines. From irresistible sweet and salty to fiery fruity heat, and piquant citrus to brown savory spice notes – one way or another there’s a veritable atlas of flavors permeating the islands’ cuisines.
Enticing combinations of aromatics, herbs, and spice blends flavor island staples like cassava, yams, squash, rice, plantains, beans, fungi, seafood, greens, and fruit. Cooking methods range from low and slow to fully develop flavors in dishes such as stews, curries, and meats to high and quick – where fire-roasting ingredients over an open flame seals in fresh flavors.
Simmering consumer desire
As horizons shrank for many consumers over the last few years, the appetite for exotic flavors and cuisines grew. Their wanderlust curtailed because of the pandemic, many people are now actively seeking new flavor experiences to provide them with that longed for sense of adventure instead. The diversity of Caribbean cuisine makes it approachable and ripe for discovery.
Research shows there’s strong consumer interest in international cuisines. Globally influenced foods are popular, especially among younger consumers. Lesser-known international cuisines are being enthusiastically explored by young diners. Their interest and demand have fueled the growth of emerging cuisines. More than half of Gen Z and Millennial diners ate a globally influenced food (beyond mainstream Chinese, Italian or Mexican) during the past week, according to Datassential in its “Around the World in 80 Trends” webinar.
Furthermore, results of an internet survey conducted by Kantar Profiles/Mintel showed 46% of consumers have tried Caribbean cuisine and would try it again. When asked about in what types of foods they would like Caribbean flavors, consumers expressed interest in trying them in all applications queried, which ranged from appetizers to dips and condiments, to sandwiches and desserts.
As mentioned, Caribbean cuisine is bound by geography, but it has a lot of variation. Jamaican cuisine is one of the better-known subsets. Often when Americans think about Caribbean cuisine, most immediately think of Jamaican cuisine and Jamaican jerk. Jerk seasoning is a sweet and salty mixture featuring a kick of heat. It commonly contains scotch bonnet peppers, brown sugar, pimento, nutmeg, soy sauce and thyme.
People are drawn to Jamaican cuisine with its tropical elements fused with itinerant influences from African, Irish, English, French, Spanish, Indian and Middle Eastern cuisines. Demonstrating strong potential for trial and adoption, Jamaican cuisine grew 63% on menus from Q1 2019 to Q1 2022, according to Mintel Menu Insights. Western palates have adopted Jamaican jerk and other tropical ingredients (mangoes, guavas, plantains, pineapples, chilies, etc.) but further exploration remains limited.
General acceptance among consumers of Jamaican cuisine signals a willingness to venture out further to try the cuisines of the other islands throughout the region. Diners will likely find familiarity with some of the foods and flavors and be attracted to the international fusion vibe. Caribbean cuisine is still under the radar waiting to be explored by consumers.
If you are interested in exploring this trending cuisine with your next project, we would love to help! Reach out to your account manager or contact us at email@example.com.