Posted: May 2, 2023
Author: Rachael Jarzembowski, Marketing Manager

A Mosaic of Flavors

Young diners – Millennials and Gen Z – continue to crave flavor adventures. They’re hungry for diverse culinary experiences with novel flavors and textures as well as dishes that evoke an exotic sense of place. Global flavors, such as Middle Eastern ones, are enticing and sometimes even a bit exotic to the everyday consumer. Yet, these flavor adventures allow people to delight in the experience of something new and different without having to travel from the comfort of their own kitchens. 

The appetite for global flavors endures as figures from Datassential can attest – 83% of consumers have either made globally-influenced food at home or are open to doing so, and 49% say they find the flavors exciting when they eat globally-influenced foods. There are endless ways to incorporate global flavors into new food and beverages. The most successful products, though, tend to be ones that combine familiar flavors with those that are unusual. This makes new products more approachable and appeals to a broader range of consumers rather than only more adventurous diners. 

A taste of the Middle East

Speaking of global flavors, our latest Wixon Innovates research is centered on Middle Eastern cuisine, which aligns well with the consumer desire for unique global flavors. Middle Eastern cuisine is also inherently healthy – made mostly with fresh ingredients, many of which are plant based. Rich in variety and abundantly flavorful, the cuisine reflects the vibrant culture and history of a vast geographical region, which touches three continents and was once home to ancient civilizations. Trade routes that crisscross the area facilitated the melding and exchange of foodstuffs and recipes. Rice, dates, tomatoes, and hazelnuts are not native to the area but were introduced into the local cuisine in this manner. 

People often conflate Middle Eastern cuisine with Mediterranean, lumping the two together when each is quite distinct. Middle Eastern food encompasses a variety of smaller, regional cuisines influenced by their geography and cultural traditions. The region’s cooking is notable for its copious use of fragrant spices, nuts, olive oil and creamy elements. The same building blocks are used in various ways throughout the region. For example – dolma – leaves stuffed with rice, meat, seafood, vegetables and more. The Lebanese version is seasoned with parsley, the Turkish one with dill, and the Armenian version, called Yalanchi, is vegetarian. Grape leaves are filled with rice, pine nuts, onion, currants, and other fragrant ingredients.

Opportunity awaits

While many Americans’ familiarity with Middle Eastern cuisine may be limited to hummus and falafel, Datassential research shows there’s significant consumer interest (63%) in the cuisine. Furthermore, 60% of consumers who have tried Middle Eastern food love or like it. Yet, despite the consumer interest, the cuisine can seem intimidating to some, especially when preparing it at home. Six in 10 consumers agree Middle Eastern cuisine is difficult to prepare, and 75% say they do not have the ingredients on hand to make it at home. 

This presents an opportunity to make Middle Eastern flavors, dishes, and culinary experiences more accessible and less intimidating to consumers. Some of the most trending global flavors and ingredients are found in Middle Eastern cuisine. The variety and versatility of flavors and wholesome ingredients throughout the region’s cuisine lend themselves to numerous applications and dayparts – from healthy snacks to tempting breakfast items. Get inspired – check out some of the application ideas Middle Eastern – Wixon, Inc. created by our innovation team. 

Datassential, SNAP! Keynote Global Flavors; Datassential – Global Desserts, 2022