US Demand for Ethnic Flavors

The US foodservice market is very attractive to international operators looking to expand globally. According to the National Restaurant Association, restaurant industry sales last year surpassed $680 billion, with the limited-service sector accounting for a third of the total. Due to the rise of importance of the millennial generation, ethnic flavors have become more in demand than they ever have before, which is causing international brands to be able to boom and grow their brands across the US.

As the popularity of the global fast casual concepts grows, chains from Brazil, Asia, Europe and South Africa are jumping into the US foodservice space to compete and expand their concepts. For example, London-based Pret A Manger is thriving by marketing their healthy and fresh products in urban areas with a high pedestrian traffic count. Lauren Hallow, associate editor of news and concept analysis for research firm Technomic states that Pret “really lets people know they use natural, preservative-free ingredients, so the fresh factor is still there. They do have a higher price point, and I think that’s why they’re sticking to these urban areas with affluent consumers.”

Le Pain Quotidian is another chain, from Belgium, that has grown exponentially in the US last year. Aside from the fresh, healthy menu items, what has made LPQ attractive in large urban areas which can at times feel lonely, is their store layout which always includes a large communal table. CEO Vincent Herbert was excited by the challenge of breaking into the US market and was confident they would succeed given their strong core values of enjoying the hospitality aspect and not just the service aspect. LPQ faced higher rent terms than accustomed to in Europe, so Herbert explains that the chain had to ensure that each location would yield high profits quickly, and that their success really came from the brand’s ability to not look like a chain.

Giraffas, a Brazilian steak and burger brand also chose to take on a challenge and enter the US market, but before doing so realized they needed a fast casual makeover to succeed. João Barbosa, CEO of Giraffes, says that the key to keeping the food costs low lays in the cut of the beef known in Brazil as a ‘piranha,’ which is relatively inexpensive in the US and has become popular in their first locations in Florida. The brand is looking to target more urban areas this year such as New York and Boston which will serve as a gateway to these expand westward and eventually franchise.

To read more about international concepts that aim to expand their brands in the US market due to an increased demand for global flavors, click here


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