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The Latin American Flavor Takeover: How Latam is Revolutionizing U.S. F&B

As the Hispanic Heritage Month approaches this September, the spotlight shines on the vibrant and ever-growing influence of Latin American cuisine on mainstream culinary trends in the U.S.

The Food Institute’s upcoming Latam Food Week conference (Sept. 25-28, 2023) presents an ideal opportunity to explore the key pillars of the dynamic relationship between Latin American flavors and the American food scene. The conference will have both virtual and in-person elements (in partnership with Cocina Sabrosa Food and Beverage Expo).

Flavors that Ignite the Palate

Latin American cuisine captivates food enthusiasts with its bold flavors. Research by Datassential reveals that 75% of US consumers are interested in trying new and unique flavors, making Latin American cuisines a perfect fit.

The extensive use of chili peppers, cilantro, lime, and spices like cumin and paprika adds depth and complexity to dishes. These vibrant flavors have transcended cultural boundaries and found their way on to menus of mainstream American restaurants.

The Art of Fusion Cuisine

Fusion cuisine has become a culinary playground for chefs who blend Latin American flavors with traditional American dishes. According to a report by Technomic, 42% of U.S. consumers express interest in fusion cuisine, embracing the creative marriage of culinary traditions.

From Latin-infused burgers to tacos with unique fillings, fusion cuisine offers a fresh take on traditional favorites, appealing to a wide range of palates.

Street Food Culture

Latin American street food has captured the imagination of food lovers across America. A study by the National Restaurant Association found that 74% of consumers enjoy trying new street food, fueling the popularity of tantalizing treats like tacos, empanadas, and arepas.

Food trucks and casual dining establishments have wholeheartedly embraced this trend, introducing Latin American street food influences to a wider audience. These portable delights add a sense of adventure and authenticity to the culinary landscape.

Regional Specialties

A rich culinary heritage encompasses diverse Latam countries, each with its own unique regional specialties. The Specialty Food Association noted that 53% of consumers are interested in exploring regional cuisines, paving the way for authentic Latin American flavors.

Restaurants are increasingly showcasing traditional dishes such as ceviche, feijoada, chimichurri, and mole, allowing customers to embark on a gastronomic journey through Latin America’s distinct culinary landscapes.

Toasting with Latin American Beverages

According to the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States, tequila sales have skyrocketed by 243% in the past decade, highlighting the growing appreciation for Latin American spirits.

Margaritas, mojitos, caipirinhas, and pisco sours have gained immense popularity, finding their place on drink menus nationwide. Traditional spirits like tequila, mezcal, and rum are increasingly appreciated and incorporated into innovative cocktails, adding an extra layer of authenticity and flavor to the beverage scene.

As the Latam Food and Beverage conference approaches during Hispanic Heritage Month, it serves as a celebration of the influential relationship between Latin American cuisine and culinary trends in the U.S.

Latin American flavors have woven their way into the fabric of American gastronomy, adding vibrancy, creativity, and cultural diversity to the food scene.

By embracing the richness of Latin American culinary traditions, chefs, restaurateurs, and consumers alike are fostering a culinary experience that’s both exciting and memorable – a topic that will no doubt be part of the insightful conversations in Irving, Texas, in late September.

Editor’s note: Ivonne Kinser serves as the innovation advisor at The Food Institute. Kinser previously served as the head of marketing and innovation for Avocados From Mexico for nearly a decade and in 2023 founded Vantage Creative, a marketing innovation lab. She will serve as the keynote speaker for Day 1 (Sept.25, 2023) of Latam Food Week