Ethnic food flavors are big news in the industry, with flavorists exploring regional dishes from Ethiopia, India, Morocco, Thailand, and many other places in the search for the next big global flavor trend. While more adventurous eaters are more than eager to try new meats, new spices, and new flavor combinations, most consumers simply aren’t as prepared to step out of their culinary comfort zones.
This can present an exciting, albeit difficult challenge to flavorists working with ethnic flavors and dishes. On the one hand, it is crucial to stay on the cutting edge in the industry. Those products that seem new and unusual one year – and that seem to face the most hesitancy when introduced – are often the ones that take the market by storm the next.
So how does a company turn these new and exciting ethnic food products from novelty items consumed by a relatively small number of the market into industry winners? The answer may be surprisingly simple.
It is important for flavorists to understand that while working with new ethnic flavors is fun and exciting, they must also take the tastes of their consumers into consideration. Many individuals are perfectly willing to give something new a try, but only if it bears at least a passing resemblance to foods and flavors that they are already familiar with.
This can be a lot simpler than it sounds. When it comes to flavors such as wasabi, for example, it can be hard to appeal to consumers who aren’t already fans of Japanese food products. However, by giving those flavors a more familiar flair, such as including natural garlic oil, soy, and ginger – all flavors that pair well with wasabi anyway – a flavorist can create something that is surprisingly familiar even if it is exotic to the majority of consumers in the market.