As consumers become more venturesome about what they eat, and eating out becomes more of an occasion to share experiences, especially for Millennials, many foodies are turning to ethnic tastes to satisfy their cravings. Today, this trend increasingly includes BBQ, a natural choice for global experimentation by operators because it’s already a ubiquitous item on menus.

Global BBQ Facts:

Of operators, 53% increased their global offerings because of new demand from consumers, and 44% look outside the mainstream (Chinese, Italian, Mexican) for those global influences.

So to keep their menus fresh and interesting, operators are creating new global dishes by adding unique and interesting flavors, sauces, rubs and spices to their classic low and slow BBQ offerings. While many regions and countries are represented well in this new trend, four in particular have risen to the top by virtue of their growing popularity. These include:

Southeast Asian

Neighbor countries Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines share some tastes, while some are wildly different and very specific to each particular country. One dish that has achieved a high level of acceptance (a 14% increase since 2017) and popularity even among less risky eaters is satay.

Satay can be made from pork, beef or chicken and is marinated, skewered and grilled over a wood-burning or charcoal fire. It is usually served with a rich peanut sauce.

Korean cuisine has quickly emerged as one of the most popular Asian cuisines. Lighter, fresher sauces allow it to be perceived as a healthier option than many alternatives, even in BBQ dishes. Street fare includes varieties of BBQ tacos, pork char sui (Cantonese roasted meat) and tonkatsu (a pork cutlet with Japanese influences).

Some of Korean cuisine’s popularity has been propelled by a sauce that has increased its presence on menus by an astounding 4,603%. Gochujang, a sweet and spicy fermented Korean hot sauce, is often used as a marinade on roast meat or fish and as a flavorful condiment on a variety of other dishes.

The islands of the Caribbean, including Puerto Rico, Cuba and Jamaica, are all as rich in flavorful tastes as they are in amazing cultures. The cuisine is a fusion of may styles, including African, Creole, Cajun, Amerindian, European, East Indian/South Asian, Persian, Arab, Chinese and Javanese/Indonesian.

When it comes to BBQ, there is lechón, a whole suckling pig roasted over charcoal. It is considered the national dish of Puerto Rico. The easy winner of the most popular Caribbean flavor, however, has to easily go to jerk (a 12% increase on menus), a Jamaican style of cooking in which meat is seasoned by dry rubbing with a specific spicy allspice and Caribbean red peppers, and cooked over hardwood charcoal in a steel drum.

South American
With more than a dozen countries, South America obviously has a wide variety of regional cuisines. That said, there are several that are shared by many people in spite of geographic borders.

In Argentina and Brazil, churrasco (a 83.7% increase on U.S. menus) is a favored BBQ style. A Brazilian term for a hearty meal, churrasco features grilled meats often prepared in a regional style on skewers and often served with chimichurri.

Asado (up 13.9%) can be found in Argentina, Chile, Paraguay and Uruguay. An asado usually consists of beef, sausages and sometimes other meats, which are cooked on a grill, called a parrilla, or over an open fire.

One advantage of BBQ is that its versatility makes it perfect for a variety of global applications. Even more than that, it’s because it’s a beloved cooking style with wide penetration on menus everywhere. By adding an ethnic flair, you can transform the typical into a more exotic variation sure to turn consumer heads.

With an extensive portfolio of meats perfect for BBQ, Smithfield Culinary can help you offer the unique types of dishes you need to help give you a competitive advantage in today’s globally influenced food environment.

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