Hit the Streets! Food-truck Flavors Are the New Packaged-goods Frontier

If you’ve been to an outdoor concert, festival, farmer’s market or other event lately, chances are you’ve seen a food truck. The colorful vehicles sending out amazing aromas have become a fun part of events, and their international flair has sharpened consumers’ desires for new flavors and cuisines.

This comes on top of an already heightened desire for adventuresome flavors, textures and colors — and creates a strong opening for food and beverage manufacturers that are looking to spice up existing lines and create new ones with innovative global flavor combinations.

A recent Milling & Baking News article looked at how the tastes of Africa, Asia and Latin America are making their way from food trucks to consumer tables. It mentioned elote, or Mexican street corn, as becoming ubiquitous, as well as a growing range of Korean-themed offerings.

Unique flavors bring global sensations

“Takoyaki is a popular Japanese street food that tantalizes taste buds with its unique blend of flavors and textures,” says Jen Lyons, marketing manager at Sensient Flavors & Extracts. “These savory bite-size battered octopus balls are served with a special sauce of mayo, bonito flakes and dried seaweed. Together, they create a masterpiece of sweet, savory and umami flavors in every bite.”

Doubles, a beloved street food from Trinidad and Tobago, are also popular. They have “a combination of flavors and textures that reflect the island’s vibrant culinary scene,” adds Holly Adrian, senior marketing manager at Sensient Natural Ingredients. “They consist of two fluffy, slightly chewy flatbreads, known as ‘bara,’ filled with a spiced chickpea curry, often served with a tangy tamarind sauce.”

Other trendy items include:

  • Birria — a traditional Mexican meat (traditionally goat) stew with a flavorful broth.
  • Kürtőskalács — also known as chimney cake, this traditional Hungarian sweet treat captivates with its unique appearance and delightful taste — pastry dough wrapped around a cylinder and coated with cinnamon, baked over an open flame creating a caramelized outer layer.
  • Banana Cue — popular in the Philippines, it is a ripe banana skewered, coated with brown sugar and deep-fried, creating a sweet and slightly caramelized treat.
  • Bunny Chow — known for its bold blend of spices and rich flavors, this popular comfort food with the fun name comes from South Africa. A loaf of bread is hollowed out and filled with a savory curry that may include chicken, lamb or beans.

Many food-truck items are meatless and thus offer an opportunity for manufacturers to recreate their flavors in more traditional, grain-based foods. That has the benefit of appealing to those pursuing a “better for you” lifestyle with more vegetables, as well as a sense of being safer.

“Consumers are enthusiastic about exploring global cuisines and now have more access to cultural influences than ever before,” Lyons says. “They are eager to embark on a culinary journey across the globe. By marrying these exotic flavors into a familiar food or beverage, they become more approachable.”

Adding lesser-known regional spices, herbs and chilies into familiar formats of breads, rolls, tortillas, crackers and cakes is a way to move consumers toward trying something new — and to revitalize products that are aging into slowing sales and declining interest.

Ready to be taste buds and see what our palette of global flavors can do for your product lines? Contact Sensient Flavors & Extracts for more information.