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


Purpose – The main purpose of the study was to determine the awareness towards ethnic foods made with traditional spices among U.S. and Thai consumers. Design/methodology/approach – Data on the awareness and use of ethnic cuisines and spices was collected from 100 consumers in a Midwestern university town in the United States 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%) shop at ethnic grocery stores than US consumers (55%). 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 cuisines 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.



Ethnic foods, Consumer test, Health, Thailand, United States, Consumer behavior