Rethink Ethnic Cuisine for Generation Z

March 2018

When operators are planning menus, they're often thinking about consumer preferences, but those vary across different age groups. As the older members of Generation Z, born during the mid-1990s, are reaching adulthood and becoming financially independent, they're attracting attention and influencing the foodservice industry.

One of the defining aspects of this generation is its diversity—almost half are not Caucasian. As a result, foods that older consumers would think of as ethnic are commonplace for the younger ones, who are also more adventurous eaters. According to Technomic, 54% of Generation Z was more willing to try ethnic flavors in 2017 than in 2016, compared with 36% of all consumers.

Because many Gen Zers have grown up having international food at home, they seek it out in foodservice, and they're open to unfamiliar fusions. Technomic research shows that 31% of Generation Z wants restaurants to put more ethnic foods and beverages on the menu, while 30% would rather go to a restaurant with offerings that feature new or innovative flavors and ingredients.

Gen Zers are also looking for healthy options, which makes turkey a better choice than other proteins that are higher in fat and calories. See how to use turkey to make internationally inspired meals with appeal for Generation Z.

Hispanic dishes, in particular, are gaining favor as this portion of the U.S. population grows. The Venezuelan Breakfast Arepa is a balanced morning meal featuring a warm corn arepa stuffed with turkey bacon, turkey sausage, egg, queso fresco, salsa and a house-made sauce.

Gen Zers are frequent snackers, likely to order items that come in smaller portions and a portable format. Skewer turkey medallions, zucchini, tomato, red pepper and artichoke into a Grilled Sesame Turkey Kebab and offer tzatziki sauce on the side.

Which of your menu items are most popular with Generation Z? Let us know through Facebook and LinkedIn, and find more on-trend ideas in our Resource Center.


4 ways to keep foodservice relevant for Gen Z, FoodService Director, June 2017.

Watrous, Monica. How boomers and Gen Z are changing food, Food Business News, June 2016.

Flavor Consumer Trend Report, Technomic, 2017.

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