To hear experts tell it, an Asian food boom has begun in America.
During Tuesday’s Food Institute webinar – “What’s Ahead in 2023?” –Solomon Choi, CEO of Jabba Brands, noted that internationally-inspired hard seltzers and hot dogs are gaining momentum in the U.S.
“You’re going to start seeing a lot of crossover between something that was traditionally American, (like) fried chicken, being influenced with ethnic flavors,” Choi said. “Even something like South Korean fried chicken is starting to become its own subcategory within fried chicken.
“We’re now seeing a lot more awareness, and a desire, to take what’s been done and do it in a different way. … I think you’re going to start seeing a lot more of these types of things,” Choi added, alluding to Asian-fusion cuisine.
Choi noted several other factors to look for in the coming year:
SELF-HELP PRODUCTS BOUND FOR BIG YEAR
Vodka, tequila, and cannabis-infused foods all rose in popularity earlier in the pandemic. Now, it could be time for self-help products like non-alcoholic wines to shine.
According to consumer trends expert Robyn Carter, the CEO of Jump Rope Innovation, many modern consumers are looking for products that will help them self-soothe while remaining sober.
“During stressful times consumers historically have turned to any number of vices to help them calm their nerves,” Carter said. “But a lot of those things … have negative effects.”
Consumers are increasingly seeking opportunities to enhance their mood, focus, social skills, or sleep. But instead of turning to traditional alcohol, for example, many consumers now seek products with adaptogens or other ingredients that help them “put something good back in their bodies,” Carter said.
She noted how Boisson – a chain of non-alcoholic liquor stores around New York City – has become rather popular.
“Beverages are usually the first way in, and I think we’ll be seeing more of this in snacks as well – you know, particularly a lot of things with mushrooms and other adaptogens that help consumers manage stress [or] just help them maintain an even state of mind,” Carter said.
SOME OPTIMISM AHEAD OF THE NEW YEAR
Mike Kostyo, associate director and trendologist with Datassential, spoke at length Tuesday about the high prices that continue to impact the food industry. Yet he concluded his presentation by noting the optimism that largely persists among consumers and business owners like restaurateurs.
Kostyo cited this bit of recent research as proof: roughly three quarters of operators say they feel positive about their business heading into 2023. He said consumer sentiment findings were very similar.
“For the most part, operators and consumers feel pretty positive about the year ahead,” added Kostyo, a past judge on Food Network’s Eating America. “I think there’s a lot of opportunity for growth and success in 2023.”