2014-Year Of The Sriracha: Ethnic Goes Mainstream

Consumer sophistication for ethic flavours is creating an increased demand for what I like to refer to as “ethic-mainstream foods”. In other words, ethic flavours are being infused or applied to everyday traditional North America foods.

Take, for example, Illinois student, Tyler Raineri, who finished in 2nd place in the Lay’s “Do Us Flavor” new potato chip flavour contest in the U.S. with his Sriracha inspired Lay’s potato chip.

Confirming this trend, Starbucks stores in Toronto and Vancouver have created a Blossoming Peach Tea Latte, for Chinese New Year. “Featuring the delicate aroma of peach and the flavour of Earl Grey tea, with freshly steamed milk, is finished with Earl Grey tea-infused whipped cream, then generously sprinkled with peach-blossom flavoured crystal sugar sprinkles” (Starbucks, 2014).

Similar to Starbucks, Nestle Canada launched Kit Kat 2 Finger Orange bar. “The special eight bar multipack has a removable sleeve with Chinese New Year graphics and a slot for ‘red pockets’ filled with money – a traditional gift during the season.” (Nestle, 2014). Kit Kat 2 incorporates a number of ethnic flavours and traditions in their bar. In Asia, oranges are seen a symbol of luck and good fortune. The orange flavour is a predominate flavour in many confectionary products.

In terms of tradition, the number eight is also a lucky number in Chinese culture, while the color red is a symbol of joy and virtue.

The first ever Sriracha festival held on October 27, 2013 in Los Angeles was a sold out event with over 800 attendees. The festival offered an abundance of Sriracha delights from chili, to cocktails, burgers, ice-cream and caramel apples. Ernesto Uchimura, chef at Plan Check Bistro and Bar in Los Angeles said “Sriracha is the perfect ingredient to focus a festival around both because of its versatility as a sauce and also because of its growing popularity”.

As consumers attention span for “me too” products fizzles, the opportunity for retailers to stock shelves with “ethnic-mainstream” food products that excite consumers in categories like condiments, salty snacks and confectionary will become important.

Based on new “ethnic-mainstream” offerings coming on the market, this is an exciting time for both consumers and retailers.

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