5 street foods influencing restaurants, CPG products

By Elizabeth Crawford

- Last updated on GMT

"Street food Yasothon" by Takeaway - Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons
"Street food Yasothon" by Takeaway - Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

Related tags: Fast food, Cooking, Nutrition

Authentic street foods with international roots that were traditionally eaten outside as make shift meals by laborers are coming inside and appealing to a wider variety of people as more consumers favor fast food over home cooking, according to Packaged Facts. 

The percentage of U.S. adults who prefer fast food to cooking at home rose to 9.1% in 2014 compared to 8.1% in 2008, the market research group notes in a recently released report​. While this may seem like a small change, its significance increases when placed in context of fewer people saying fast food fits into their busy life, which is down to 20.2% in 2014 compared to 22.8% in 2007. When viewed together, these trends suggest fast food now offers appeal beyond speed.

Part of that appeal comes from the fast causal genre helping improve the quality of fast food offerings to include more “internationally and regionally inspired options that aren’t easily replicated at home,”​ David Sprinkle, research director at Packaged Facts, says in the report.

He notes that street food inspired options are particularly “fashionable”​ among urban and Millennial hipsters, a demographic with increasing spending power and often a higher disposable income than other groups.

Packaged food manufacturers could win back some of this market share by creating low-prep or heat and serve versions of trendy street foods to sell at grocery stores.

Authenticity key for success

Street foods that particularly resonate with consumers offer bold flavor and authenticity, Sprinkle said in the report. He added that consumers also favor artisanal and craft foods as well as those that fit into the health and wellness trend.

Within these parameters, he highlighted five street foods that are particularly appealing to consumers and emerging as trendy:

1)      Llapingacho​: A fried potato mash flavored with white cheese and achiote that is traditionally served with roasted pork or chorizo is an authentic Ecuadorian food that easily would tie into increasing consumer demand for ethnic breakfasts, which the National Restaurant Association said is trending up for 2015. (Read about the top 10 food trends that the association predicts will dominate 2015 HERE​.) 

2)      Simit​: A hybrid between a sesame seed encrusted bagel and a soft pretzel, this traditional Turkish treat also is well-suited as an easy breakfast item that can be positioned as artisanal and craft, according to Packaged Facts.

3)      Cha siu bao and gua bao​: These yeast-raised dough buns filled with meat and vegetables gained popularity in the U.S. through the food truck scene, but they also are easy breakfast treats that can be offered at a restaurant or in the frozen food section of a grocery store.

4)      Charred vegetables and fruit​: Fruit and veggies are capturing more space on the grill and finding their way into beverage bars, packaged sweets and sauces, according to Packaged Facts. They also tie in nicely to the wellness trend as more people try to eat healthier. It also taps into consumers who are intentionally seeking adventurous foods.

5)      Grilled meat skewers​: Skewers still have a place on the grill and on the plates of consumers trying to up their protein intake while trying bold, savory flavors, the report notes. These could translate into pre-cooked and frozen options offered by packaged food makers or CPG companies could focus on the sauces and marinades for grilled meat. 

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