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Ethnic food awareness and perceptions of consumers in Thailand and the United States

Brandon Bell (Department of Human Nutrition, The Sensory Analysis Center, Kansas State University, Manhattan, Kansas, USA)
Koushik Adhikari (Department of Human Nutrition, The Sensory Analysis Center, Kansas State University, Manhattan, Kansas, USA)
Edgar Chambers IV (Department of Human Nutrition, The Sensory Analysis Center, Kansas State University, Manhattan, Kansas, USA)
Panat Cherdchu (Department of Human Nutrition, The Sensory Analysis Center, Kansas State University, Manhattan, Kansas, USA)
Thongchai Suwonsichon (Department of Product Development, Kasetsart University, Ladyaw Chatujak, Bangkok, Thailand)

Nutrition & Food Science

ISSN: 0034-6659

Article publication date: 19 July 2011

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to determine the awareness towards ethnic foods made with traditional spices among US and Thai consumers.

Design/methodology/approach

Data on the awareness and use of ethnic cuisines and spices were collected from 100 consumers in a Midwestern university town in the USA and 100 consumers in Bangkok, Thailand. Consumers were also asked to identify ethnic spice blends by tasting spice blends in rice and they ranked the perceived health benefits of 15 ethnic cuisines.

Findings

The results showed that more Thai consumers (94 percent) shop at ethnic grocery stores than US consumers (55 percent). Also, Thai consumers are more likely to consume ethnic foods from nearby countries, but US consumers have tried a greater variety of ethnic foods. Neither group generally was able to identify a cuisine based only on the spice flavors, although Thai consumers were slightly better at doing so. Asian cuisines were perceived to have the greatest health benefits to both American and Thai consumers.

Originality/value

The consumption of ethnic foods is on the rise around the world as consumers seek new food experiences and diversity in their diets. Manufacturers are using these traditional spices to convey an “ethnic” and “healthy” profile to their foods.

Keywords

Citation

Bell, B., Adhikari, K., Chambers, E., Cherdchu, P. and Suwonsichon, T. (2011), "Ethnic food awareness and perceptions of consumers in Thailand and the United States", Nutrition & Food Science, Vol. 41 No. 4, pp. 268-277. https://doi.org/10.1108/00346651111151401

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited