Asian Reimagined

8/8/2015

Asian flavors and ingredients are on trend, and savvy convenience store operators are experimenting with new ways to profile the cuisine and appeal to adventurous, on-the-go diners. Operators are reimagining Asian options into unique, attention-grabbing dishes that spotlight trendy ingredients or preparations, and fuse flavors from other global cuisines.

According to Technomic’s most recent Flavor Consumer Trend Report, consumers are increasingly more interested in ethnic flavors and cuisines. This same report found that more than half of consumers (54 percent) now prefer hot or spicy sauces, dips or condiments.

On foodservice menus, spicy Asian flavors like Sriracha and wasabi appear in everything from sandwiches to bite-sized snacks. For example, c-store branded turnkey foodservice provider Hot Stuff Pizza recently rolled out Sriracha Chicken Bites, an Asian-inspired snack option.

Highlighting spicy Asian sauces and condiments allows operators to combine the growing consumer interest in both ethnic cuisines and next-level spiciness into a single item.

C-store operators are even taking this trend to the next level by marrying Asian flavors with other cuisines. In the same Flavor Consumer Trend Report, Technomic found there is consumer interest in combination flavors when it comes to ethnic cuisine, particularly among younger consumers. Roughly two out of five consumers in both the 18–24 (39 percent) and 25–34 (41 percent) age ranges like dishes that feature a fusion of flavors from more than one type of cuisine.

Looking at a recent c-store example of this trend, QuickChek Corp. launched limited-time eggrolls in two varieties, Buffalo Chicken and Cheesesteak, which combine the typical Asian preparation of eggrolls with American ingredients.

Beyond flavor fusions and spicy flavors, c-store operators are utilizing the strategy of shock value to draw attention to Asian-inspired items. Giant Eagle Inc.’s GetGo division offers a prime example of this tactic with its limited-time The General, a sub featuring chicken fingers in General Tso sauce, crispy eggrolls and spicy Sriracha sauce, all served on a sesame-seed roll. Surprising combinations and over-the-top indulgence are menu development strategies that have proven to bring attention to menus at both restaurants and convenience stores.

The key for c-stores is to introduce limited-time offers that spotlight these trendy, ethnic flavors and preparations, while remaining true to the affordability and convenience consumers seek.

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