Saturday, June 22, 2024

Craving authenticity in international foods

International foods make Australia one of the most culturally diverse countries in the world. According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics data from 2018, just over 29% of Australia’s resident population were born overseas. While people born in England continued to be the largest group of overseas-born residents (4% of population), Asian countries make up half of the top ten countries of birth, with China (2.%), India (2.%), Philippines (1.1%), Vietnam (1% and Malaysia (0.7%).

Combine this cultural diversity with a love of travelling – albeit, a love that’s been left unrequited for many during these Covid times – and it’s clear that Australians are more aware than ever of authentic international cuisine. When it comes to buying these products from supermarkets, they won’t settle for second rate.

“Multicultural Australia has a newfound craving for authenticity,” says Ayam Marketing Manager Linda Pipolo.

“There’s no question Australian consumers are becoming more aware, deeply engaged and educated on the vast diaspora of Asian cultures – taking time to dig into the roots of Asian food and discover the origins of flavour.

“This cultural influence has resulted in a shift from trendy fusion to honest and authentic Asian dishes. Consumers now value products that offer high quality, uncompromised flavour taken straight from the source and delivered to the table with ease and simplicity,” she says.

Tasman Foods International Managing Director Henry Chen says cuisines from all corners of the world are permeating our food culture via new restaurants and talented chefs, inspiring home cooks to search out new ingredients on supermarket shelves.

“We are seeing ingredients like gochujang sauce, chinkiang vinegar and atta flour that would have only been available in speciality stores only five years ago,” he says. “There definitely has been a shift to catering for a larger range of cuisines by retailers.”

The international foods category in grocery has shifted over the years from “one or two bays of limited range,” says Ettason Category Manager Thomas Michaels, to a more expansive category, “focussing around educating consumers about creating authentic meals using multiple ingredients”.

As certain international flavour profiles become mainstream, it’s also common to see them appearing in other food segments, says Makmur Enterprises Director Kevin Cahya Tjangdjaja.

“For example, many venues or FMCG manufacturers that have historically sold items such as ‘popcorn chicken’, are now broadening their range to include flavours and toppings like ‘popcorn chicken with sriracha mayo’, ‘Korean-style popcorn chicken’ or ‘Sichuan dusted popcorn chicken’,” he says.

“The role of international foods has definitely changed.”

For more on trends and developments in the international foods category, check out the January/February issue of Retail World.

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