Looking ahead to 2015, one of the most intriguing trends expected to shape the U.S. foodservice sector is the emerging popularity of internationally inspired street and grill foods that pay homage to the authentic ingredients and flavors of their homelands, according to Street and Grill Foods: Culinary Trend Mapping Report, a new study by market research firm Packaged Facts. 


“Sure, nothing could be more American than street, fair, and festival foods such as corn dogs, pretzels, ice cream and cotton candy, but its street foods of disparate geographic heritage that are truly moving the culinary meter and exciting restaurateurs and restaurant patrons alike,” says David Sprinkle, research director for Packaged Facts.

Foodies and urban and Millennial hipsters are among the consumers most likely to be attracted to the fresh, local, distinctive, and savoriness associated with these internationally and regionally inspired street and grill foods. Likewise, the artisanal nature of these foods appeals to casual eaters occasionally seeking tickets to flavor adventure and tourism. Meanwhile, the inherent healthfulness of various street and grilled dishes featuring vegetables, fruit, or sesame seeds garner the attention of wellness-conscious eaters seeking to indulge in something different without completely abandoning their commitment to proper nutrition.

This issue of Culinary Trend Tracking Series offers five profiles of street foods or grilled dishes with international roots and resonance:

• Llapingacho. A street food originating in Ecuador, the llapingacho is a fried potato mash flavored with white cheese and achiote. The llapingacho and its roasted pork and chorizo sidekicks are well-suited for restaurateurs and retailers who are targeting consumers looking for a more adventurous breakfast experience.

• Simit. A circular bread encrusted with sesame seeds, the simit is a traditional part of the Turkish breakfast. With the functionality of a bagel and a consistency and the street vibe of a soft pretzel, the simit holds promise for restaurants, foodservice operations, and bakeries.

• Char Siu Bao and Gua Bao. The bao is a yeast-raised dough bun popular in Hong Kong, Taiwan, China, and Vietnam. Trending now are char siu bao, credited to the Guangdon province in Mainland China and also Hong Kong, and gua bao, originating in Taiwan and hawked on U.S. streets through the dumpling food truck scene.

• Charred. Vegetables and fruit have been getting more attention on the grill, taking advantage of the caramelizing of sugars in the process. Applications include charred fruit at the beverage bar and in packaged confectionery and sauces.

• Grilled Meat Skewers. The continued popularity of Mediterranean Rim cuisine helps keep skewers on the culinary radar. As American consumers increasingly seek out international cuisines, the international influences and the choice of meat proteins will become more diverse.

“CuTTS continues our tradition of providing strategic culinary studies that combine hard data and consumer insights with an informed focus on market opportunities,” says Sprinkle. The culinary trends profiled in CuTTS provide a comprehensive understanding of strategies and product profiles that can inspire and facilitate innovation by executives, strategists, chefs, and food research professionals in R&D/product development, market and consumer insights, brand management, and trade and consumer marketing.