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There’s a world of adventurous nibbling awaiting them. That’s because global snacking is growing in popularity and the race is on to serve up the most interesting and unique snacks imaginable. As the competition heats up, more operators are offering creative mash-ups of familiar snacking favorites with exotic flavors and preparations. Now, up to 68% of consumers are going out of their way to find global foods. (Datassential Global Report, 2017) In fact, 21% are more likely to order ethnic items as a snack than as a full meal. (Technomic, Snacking CTR, 2018)

Snacking has also increased with consumers who have busy, on-the-go lifestyles. More consumers now than in 2016 say they skip or replace one or two meals per day with snacks. Those who replace meals mainly replace breakfast and lunch—likely due to time constraints. Because of this, protein-filled snacks are important for the everyday consumers, to ensure that they are satisfied throughout the day. Operators are adapting to the changing lifestyle and seeing a need for snacks and global flavors.

Pork and chicken are leading the pack in this trend. One reason is that both are very versatile for any global application and ethnic flavor. Another reason is that consumers would like to see more restaurants offer pork and chicken with ethnic ingredients and flavors, as well as a wider variety of pork/chicken handheld options.

Technomic reports that two-thirds of customers eat global fare at least once a month, and about a quarter (24%) eats it at least once a week. What’s more, about a third of consumers say they are more interested in trying ethnic flavors than they were a year ago. More specifically, Indian, Middle Eastern, regional African and Filipino cuisines are emerging in chains.

Many new unique flavor experiences have been borrowed from the kinds of street fare you can find worldwide peddled in stalls, in trucks and in carts. Street food has seen an 86% growth in menu penetration over 4 years. With a consumer desire for global tastes, expect operators to explore other parts of the world for snackable street foods such as pierogies, kolaches, spiedini, satays and currywursts.

Consumers’ interest in unique and ethnic flavors is well established and on the increase. So what does the future of this trend have in store for operators? It likely indicates that this growing reliance on snacks as meals means dedicated snacking menus and offerings that will need to include high-protein options, while at the same time continuing to provide options for lighter snacking occasions. Happily for consumers, therefore, they should expect to see more interesting and more extensive snack menus emerging on the food scene as the trend continues to evolve.

Smithfield’s extensive portfolio of quality products offers everything you need to help you create unique ethnically inspired snacks and small plates to diversify your menu and take customers on a global adventure. From our fresh-pork options, including our superior DURoC line and comprehensive lineup of commodity pork, to our fully cooked options, such as deli meats, pulled pork, ready-to-heat bacon and more, Smithfield has the right selection to suit the needs of any operator.

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