Younger, wealthier consumers & parents more likely to value multicultural cuisine, Harris Poll finds

By Elizabeth Crawford contact

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Younger, wealthier consumers value multicultural cuisine, Harris Poll

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A recent Harris Poll finding that the vast majority of Americans agree they love trying products and experiences outside their own culture likely explains why many of the emerging and fast-growing trends in food and beverage in the US originate in or borrow from other cultures. 

The July 21 poll, which was conducted online June 7-9 and included US adults 18 years and older, found 78% of Americans love trying new things from other cultures, including 26% who said it was at least very important that the foods they buy and consume contain multicultural flavors, such as Spanish, Mexican, Indian, Chinese and Japanese.

As expected, 18- to 34-year-old millennials who grew up with more exposure to foods and beverages from other cultures than the generations before them, lead the charge with 32% saying it was at least very important to them to buy products with multicultural flavors, compared to only 27% of consumers 35-54, 20% of 55- to 64-year-olds and 21% of adults 65 years and older.

Notably, respondents with children in their homes were more likely than those without to agree that multicultural cuisine was important at 28% compared to 25%. In addition, parents with children more routinely enjoy multicultural food, with 39% saying they do so at least once a week compared to only 30% of those in households without children.

While the Harris Poll did not speculate about the reason behind these numbers, it could be due to parents wanting to expose their children to as many options as possible so that they can make their own decisions regarding preferences.  Also, the respondents with children under 18 likely are older millennials.

Region and income align with adventurousness

The other group of respondents more likely to value multi-cultural flavors hailed from the West, where 33% of the respondents who said multicultural flavors were important lived, according to the poll. The percentage who held this value dropped off steeply for other regions, with only 26% coming from the Northeast and 23% coming each from the South and the Midwest.

While the level of education and income did not seem to factor into who values multi-cultural cuisine, they did play a role in how often consumers scratched this itch.

The poll found 39% of shoppers who earn more than $100,000 annually enjoy multlicultural food at home or at a restaurant once a week or more, compared to only 33% of consumers with an income between $50,000 and $99,000 a year, and 27% of consumers who make less than $50,000 a year. Likewise, consumers with a higher education are more likely to eat multicultural food at least once a week than those with less than a high-school degree.

This could reflect the higher cost and effort of finding special ingredients with which to prepare or purchase multicultural meals.

Organic and local still top flavor preferences

While multicultural influences are important to consumers today, it still is not as important as buying local and organic products.

More than a third (36%) or respondents said eating locally sourced ingredients is at least very important, followed by 32% who said eating organic and natural was very important, according to the poll.

The consumers who value these factors follow many of the same demographic characteristic as those who value multicultural cuisine. Including respondents with children in their household being more likely to opt for organic and local than those without; and those with higher education and income levels being more likely to value these characteristics, according to the poll. 

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