Survey: 76% of Americans Like International Flavors

September 24, 2019

3 Min Read
Survey: 76% of Americans Like International Flavors
A Frito-Lay survey found the majority of Americans like trying international flavors. Image courtesy of Pixabay

A new survey by PepsiCo-owned Frito-Lay found that Americans are increasingly turning to food products with global flavors like turmeric and tahini as taste preferences broaden in the country.  

69% of those who participated in the Frito-Lay U.S. Snack Index survey reported they consume “globally-inspired” foods and flavors at least once per month, the company said in a recent press release announcing the survey’s results. Three fourths, or 76%, of respondents said they enjoy trying flavors from a different culture. 

“More than any single seasonal flavor trend, it’s really the overarching globalization of flavor that is turning the food industry upside down, ushering in a whole new approach to meeting consumer demand,” Frito-Lay said in the release.

About half (48%) of survey participants learn about new foods, flavors, ingredients, and cuisines from friends and family and 44% reported their flavor preferences are influenced by countries they have traveled to. Retailers and restaurants also play an important role in exposing Americans to new tastes and foods. 38% said they sampled new flavors at restaurants or in stores.

American consumers also appear to be open to trying new varieties and flavors. 74% of those surveyed indicated they would rather a new food type or flavor instead of buying a product they have consumed before. The majority of food purchasers (68%) in the U.S. are also looking for a wide range of flavor options, while 30% of respondents only prefer a few flavor options. 

Latin American, Comfort Foods, and Mainland Asian flavors and foods were the most popular among those surveyed. 

“What Americans choose to eat has become a complex mishmash of cultures and spices well beyond ethnic or traditional silos,” Dr. Christine Cioffe, senior vice president, research and development at PepsiCo, said in a statement. “That’s why we maintain a proprietary database of more than 1000 global flavor variants and employ hundreds of culinary experts and scientists dedicated to exploring new tastes and flavors.”

Frito-Lay is currently using artificial intelligence (AI) to continuously analyze data points for flavor micro-markets and products. The company used AI recently to spot small market segments in the eastern U.S. where hot and spicy flavors are popular. Once the micro markets were identified, Frito-Lay used the information to inform its distribution of products in the area.

“It’s given us a ‘tasty’ challenge – to predict, respond, and adapt to rapidly expanding consumer preferences with speed and agility by leveraging technology to ensure we can get consumers exactly the snacks they want exactly where they want to buy them,” Frito-Lay North America Chief Transformation & Strategy Officer Michael Lindsey said. “We believe it’s our job to develop and deliver snacks that equally delight a niche community as well as a mass crowd.”

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