East African is largely dominated by the flavours and dishes of Ethiopia as well as influences from the Middle East and India. One of the fundamental spices used in East African cooking is berbere – a fiery chilli and ginger based mix. Whilst it’s less known than West African and Moroccan cuisines, it lends itself well to plant-based dishes as well as sharing plates, so it has real potential to grow within the UK.
Flavours Less Travelled: UK International Food Trends in 2023
Trending flavours from around the world in 2023
Global cuisines and flavours have very high appeal amongst consumers, as they can make the eating experience that bit more exciting and adventurous. In 2022, for example, 3 in 4 UK adults said that world cuisine products make a midweek meal feel like more of a treat*. And the same proportion say world cuisine flavours make an at-home lunch more exciting*.
However, with so much choice popping up in the out of home market, consumers expect new, exciting options and often seek something a bit different.
Over 1 in 3 people now say that emerging world cuisines have replaced the more established ones (e.g. Indian, Chinese) in their regular meal choices*.
Check out our recipes for some ideas on unusual cuisine pairings…
Combining the well-loved Mexican and Italian classics, our chilli tortilla lasagne makes a hearty weekday lunch or evening meal.
Combining the popular Texas BBQ beef brisket with punchy Japanese flavours, all wrapped up in the well-loved toasted sandwich format.
The popular Middle Eastern street food meets a British pub favourite with our falafel scotch egg.
Pan African cuisine
With Africa being such a huge continent, the Pan-African cuisine is truly a melting pot of different flavours.
Which goes some way to explaining why it has wide appeal, despite being a relatively niche cuisine. Whilst over 1 in 4 people have eaten African food in the past few months, almost half of people (47%) in the UK have not tried, but are interested in trying the cuisine*.
Check out our delicious recipes inspired by various regions of Africa…
A bright and flavoursome salad, perfect for a lunch occasion or as a side dish to a main.
Our vegetarian Tunisian brik recipe makes a great lunch option or hand-held option for on-the-go.
A veg-packed bed of cous cous with a kick of traditional harissa and garlic. Alongside chicken thighs marinated in Nigerian suya spice.
We surveyed consumers to find out which emerging cuisines they are interested in trying in the out of home market, and Cuban came out on top and there’s demand for more Cuban food in the out of home market.
46% of people would like to try Cuban cuisine when eating out**
58% of UK adults saying that it is difficult to find**
Cuban food lends itself particularly well to street food and hand-held formats, and when we surveyed consumers about which settings they’d eat Cuban food in, street food stalls and markets were the top choice.
But the cuisine is not limited to street food. Traditional stew-based dishes like Ropa Vieja feature in this cuisine. And fresh seafood and fish are typically used in main dishes with Cuba being an island. Its tropical climate also means that locally grown fruits and root vegetables feature in authentic dishes too. Plantain, for example, is widely-used in Cuban and Caribbean cuisine..
The Sri Lankan cuisine is well known for its unique combination of herbs, spices, fish, vegetables, rice and fruits. It is heavily influenced by South Indian and Indonesian cuisines as well as Dutch. The cuisine is characterised by its unique spice blends including cumin, cardamom, and cinnamon is widely used too. Traditional dishes include spicy curries with rice, roti breads, hoppers and chutney side dishes.
Only 11% of UK consumers have eaten Sri Lankan food in the out of home market**
A further 45% are eager to try it when eating out**
58% of UK adults say that it is difficult to find**
A traditional Sri Lankan pork curry with punchy tamarind flavours and a kick of spice.
Spicy deep-fried fish croquettes, a delicious and traditional Sri Lankan street food.
This coconut-based side dish is well-known among Sri Lankans and is used for every day part. An essential part of a Sri Lankan curry banquet!
Unusual Fusions - there are no rules
Unusual Fusions is about having fun with your menu by taking the “no rules” approach. With this trend, there are endless opportunities. Whether you mix up ingredients, flavours or even the formats of popular dishes, you can give your customers a unique experience they wouldn’t typically see in other places.
The more novel and exciting their dish is, the more likely they are to think it’s worth going out, and parting with their cash for.
What’s more, we’re seeing more ‘format’ fusions as well as flavour and cuisine fusions. Almost half of UK adults (46%) agree that eating a familiar dish with a global twist has encouraged them to explore that cuisine further*. So it really doesn’t need to require a change-up of the menu, especially if there is one certain cuisine you specialise in.
Are international foods becoming popular in the UK?
Consumers are not only interested in trying them at dinner, but 3 in 4 UK adults said that world cuisine products make a midweek meal feel like more of a treat and the same proportion felt world cuisine flavours make an at-home lunch more exciting**.
Which types of global foods will consumers want in 2023?
We’re seeing consumers look for more adventurous flavours and ingredients. They’re showing real interest in more off the beaten track cuisines and flavoured that they’ve not tried before.
Cuban, Sri Lankan, Pan African and Unusual Fusions are cuisines that consumers have told us hold appeal for them in the recent research we conducted. 46% of people would like to try Cuban cuisine, 45% Sri Lankan, and 47% Pan-African.**
Should you include global food in your menu?
46% agree that eating a familiar dish with a global twist has encouraged them to explore that cuisine further**. Some of the global food trends that are gaining interest and appeal with consumers are also really versatile, such as spice blends, pastes or rubs that can be added to fresh meat, poultry or plant-based centre of plate options.
They’re not just for street food stalls or restaurants, you can also incorporate them as tasters, tapas or in sharing dishes or use them to create some fun and excitement around different concepts or themed menus. They’re a great way to add a touch of creative flair to your menu…