Bridging Cultures Through Flavor: A How-To Guide for Concession Operators and Food Vendors

Snacking is universal. That first chip feeling after popping open a crinkly bag of chips. That first hot, buttery handful of fresh popcorn. That warm, chewy pretzel with melty cheese. No matter where we are in the world, a snack is joy-bringing, life-giving, smile-inducing. But how is snacking in 2024 different from how we used to snack?

For one thing, the culinary landscape is more diverse and interconnected than ever before. Social media platforms like YouTube and TikTok have given us a peek inside kitchens around the world, igniting the palates of newly adventurous eaters everywhere. Kids and adults alike are wanting to try what those YouTubers are trying. This newfound curiosity presents a unique opportunity for concession operators and food vendors to attract a broader audience by bridging cultures through flavor.

Channels dedicated to tasting foods from across the globe and subscription services like Universal Yums and Try The World broaden our palates and cultural understanding and are also fun. International food aisles have expanded to include more items and represent more cultures. If you are lucky, your town may also have a plethora of unique, international grocers that supply authentic, hard-to-find ingredients to immigrants longing for a taste of home. 

These foods are new and exciting to most of us born and raised in the US. But for many, they are local to their hometowns afar.  In a recently published article on, author Christopher Doering dives into how major Consumer Packaged Goods (CPG) companies like PepsiCo and Kellanova are tailoring their snack offerings to meet local preferences globally. With $91 billion in global sales in 2023, PepsiCo emphasizes the importance of understanding local food cultures to customize their products for different markets effectively. Mustafa Shamseldin, PepsiCo’s category growth officer and chief marketing officer for international foods, states, “Immersing ourselves in local food culture is absolutely critical to our food business. It’s one of the biggest priorities” (“How PepsiCo, Kellanova adapt their snacks to local tastes around the world”). This localization strategy has led to unique product variations, such as Cucumber Lays in China and Tangy Tomato Pringles in India. 

Okay, this article is talking about local flavors. But what got my attention was the sheer enormity of exciting flavors out there. And that these flavors are comfort/home/nostalgia to so many. And what do we know about food and nostalgia? That fun foods from concession stands are the epitome of nostalgic food experiences.

Why You Should Embrace Global Flavors

Here’s why you should consider integrating global flavors into your concession menu:

Diverse Appeal

Offering a range of flavors can attract a more varied customer base, including those seeking a taste of home and others looking for a culinary adventure. Can you imagine the delight of a Korean-American customer who lays eyes on a bag of honey butter potato chips? 

Brand Differentiation

Unique flavor offerings can set your business apart in a crowded market, making your brand more memorable and meaningful. 

Customer Engagement

Engaging customers with new and exciting flavors can increase social media interaction, enhancing your brand’s visibility and appeal.

How to Incorporate Global Flavors

Start with Research

Understand the demographics of your area and the global cuisines that appeal to them. Look up the types of international grocers in your area. Use social media to gauge interest in certain flavors or dishes. Work closely with your food and beverage distributors to find out what they can access and the fun food programs that can support your vision.  

Test and Learn

Introduce new flavors in small batches to see how your customers respond—stock shelf-stable snack and beverage items to see what piques customers’ interest. Collect feedback and adjust accordingly. 

Educate Your Customers

Use your platforms to educate customers about the origins and stories behind the global flavors you’re introducing. Share across your social media platforms. This can add value and deepen their appreciation.

Partner with Suppliers

Work with suppliers like Allen Associates, who have expertise in sourcing and providing high-quality ingredients from around the world. They can also offer insights into popular and emerging flavor trends.

Stay Authentic

While adapting dishes to suit your operational needs and customer preferences is okay, respect the authenticity and point of origin of the flavors and dishes you’re inspired by. 

Allen Associates’ Expertise

As a specialty beverage and fun food distributor, Allen Associates is ideally positioned to help your business navigate the world of global flavors. We can provide:

Quality Ingredients

We have access to high-quality, authentic ingredients from around the world.

Trend Insights

Up-to-date information on trending global flavors and how they can be integrated into your offerings.

Operational Support

Guidance on incorporating new ingredients into your operations smoothly and efficiently.

Keep it Local While Embracing Global Flavors

Two things are true. 1. It’s so important to celebrate local foods and flavors. Your region is likely on the culinary map (Beef on Weck or Garbage Plate, anyone?) and could inspire adventurous eaters on the other side of the world. And 2. International flavors are fun and increasingly available, and tastes have changed accordingly. 

By embracing global flavors, you’re providing a food experience that resonates with the adventurous spirit of today’s consumers while also connecting community members to their roots. With the support of partners like Allen Associates, concession operators and food vendors have the tools and resources to bridge cultures through flavor successfully.

Ready to take your menu to the next level? Contact Allen Associates today and explore how we can help you captivate your customers with a symphony of global tastes.

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