CHICAGO – Consumers desire to try new ethnic flavors at restaurants but the available options are often disappointing, Technomic has found.

According to Technomic, only 23 percent of consumers said they were satisfied with the availability of ethnic offerings at limited-service restaurants and just 28 percent said they were satisfied with the offerings at full-service restaurants. In addition 33 percent of consumers strongly agreed there are many ethnic foods they would like to order at restaurants, but they can’t find these foods.

“Authenticity is crucial to the ethnic food and beverage purchasing decision,” said Darren Tristano, executive vice-president with Technomic. “Sixty-five percent of consumers say food that tastes authentic is one of the most important factors in deciding which establishment to visit for ethnic foods and beverages. Operators have an opportunity to create innovative and globally inspired menu items reflected through preparation, taste and flavor. Consumers also say dishes prepared by someone from that region are given greater credibility as authentic.”

Technomic also found 77 percent of consumers buy ethnic foods and flavors away from home at least once a month, with this strongly driven by Asian and Hispanic respondents.

Foods do not necessarily need to be from another country to be considered ethnic as 9 out of 10 consumers believe regional US cuisines such as Cajun and Creole to be ethnic. In addition, Southeast Asian flavors are moving into the mainstream with the development of familiar foods that have a Thai, Vietnamese or Indonesian influence on sauces, dressings and ingredients.