Esmee Williams, Allrecipes’ Vice President, Consumer & Brand Strategy, shared insights with MSLGROUP’s SPRINTers, a global team of 100+ strategic planners, researchers and insights experts, for its latest Insight Report about the Future of Food Communications. The Q&A review covered the influence of digital technologies on global food culture, the growing interest and adoption of global food flavors, especially among millennials, crowdsourcing’s influence on the proliferation of food information, social sharing’s impact on food experiences and recommendations, and the potential of Smart Kitchen technologies to extend shared food experiences even farther in the future.

People’s Insights:
Are we approaching an era of global food culture in which flavors and food tastes freely cross borders? Or do national food traditions still dominate?

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Esmee:
As more people tap into the power of digital technologies to collect and share information, the smaller our world becomes. Today 3 billion people worldwide have access to nearly one zettabyte of data; answers to questions, guidance for creating new things, and inspiration for expanding horizons are just keystrokes away.

Global food culture is greatly benefiting from this phenomenon as home cooks from all corners of the world share food experiences with other cooks through social media. According to Allrecipes’ 2015 Global Digital Food research, 93% of cooks worldwide seek new recipes weekly, with the web being the top source for recipes (79% of cooks). Allrecipes’ global reach with 19 sites serving 24 countries gives us the unique ability to witness the similarities that occur among cooks across cultures.

Our data shows that the most popular, most viewed recipes in the countries we serve are those which are deeply rooted in that country’s heritage and traditions. In the United States, the top recipe is ‘Good Old Fashioned Pancakes’, in Nederland it’s White Asparagus, in Brazil it’s Brigadeiro, and in China it’s ??? (double-cooked pork). This supports the notion that national food traditions continue to dominate.

However, it’s interesting to note that when you read the cooks’ reviews of these dishes (there are typically thousands), stories emerge that demonstrate how cooks are increasingly introducing variations to these dishes that push traditional boundaries. Sometimes the review shares new cooking methods that make a dish faster, healthier or more affordable. However, increasingly, we are seeing reviews across the globe where cooks are introducing new ingredients and flavors to the dish – and often times the new ingredient or flavor is from a country outside of their own. For instance, in Nederland there’s a strong interest in world cuisine, with Thai and Moroccan flavors trending strongly.

Another interesting observation is that, while the most popular recipes in each country are often of local origin, the fastest trending recipes are typically recipes for dishes that are not endemic to each country. Trends in the United States alone show that there’s a growing curiosity and craving for global foods. In Brazil, guacamole (Brazilians think of avocados as dessert, a savory avocado dish is a revelation) and cupcakes are trending strongly.

The last piece of evidence of the growing interesting and adoption of global flavors, especially among Millennial home cooks, is from our 2015 Thanksgiving Attitudes and Behaviors survey. When we asked home cooks which cultural foods they planned to include as part of their Thanksgiving meal (arguably the least likely meal for American home cooks to stray from traditional foods), more than 2/3rds of cooks said they would introduce new twists on American foods. And a significant number of cooks, especially Millennials, indicated that they would be introducing flavors from a variety of cultures from Mexico, Middle East, South America and Asia.

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Read the rest of Esmee’s insights here.

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Esmee Williams
Allrecipes, Vice President,
Consumer & Brand Strategy
@esmeewilliams