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Globalisation of taste

The world is inching closer, at least on a plate

Globalisation is changing the eating habits of the consumers. Sushi or falafel now show up on the daily menu across Europe. A well-developed supply chain makes it possible to get these foods to the local supermarkets. The Nagel-Group also contributes to this.

It is commonly known that the one question on everyone's mind when the lunch break nears is: "What's for lunch?". In Germany, the most common answer in the past was "Schnitzel und Pommes" (escalope and chips). However, there are a lot more varied options to choose from nowadays. This is because the range of culinary options is greater today than ever before. You can taste the cuisine from around the world during the course of one week: Italian food on Mondays, Thai food on Tuesdays, Turkish food on Wednesdays, Indian food on Thursdays, and Greek food on Fridays. "Competition improves quality. This is because the quality-conscious German consumer will not buy a product that does not meet the high standards they have set," says Stefanie Sabet, Managing Director of the Federation of German Food and Drink Industries (BVE, short for Bundesvereinigung der Deutschen Ernährungsindustrie).

Manufacturers and restaurateurs have to pull off a balancing act between catering to exotic and the local, regional tastes; and this is not always easy to achieve. At present, you will find that some places show opposing trends. This is how the light Asian cuisine which offers vegetarian options wins over consumers. The same applies to oriental dishes which have been marketed as Jerusalem kitchen after the worldwide success of Yotam Ottolenghi. Similarly, new destinations such as Denmark, Peru or Albania are where you go if you want to taste top cuisine. However, whatever option is chosen, regional quality is part of the expectations," says Dr Peter Peter, Lecturer in Gastrosophy with a focus on global cuisine and culinary trends at the University of Salzburg.

This is not a new phenomenon. The blending of traditional spices, agricultural products, and preparation methods began during the colonial era in the 15th century. An excellent example of this is Tikka Masala, one of Britain's favourite dishes of Asian origin. "A true British national dish" as Robin Cook, the then British foreign secretary, once described the dish. Despite the Indian influence on their cuisine, the British still love traditional dishes such as fish and chips, beans on toast, and cottage pie. Regional specialties are therefore not repressed by new influences. "Consumers seek variety," Stefanie Sabet explains. "Instead of repression, we have seen how regional and international cuisine inspire each other to create new dishes and products."

Culinary evolution

In this particular context, influences of guest workers from Turkey, Italy, and Greece have had the biggest impact in Germany. They have enriched the German cuisine with different Mediterranean dishes. "International dishes have firmly established themselves on the German dining map. However, their popularity dates back to the 1960s and the 1970s, and is nothing new," says Peter Peter. The doner kebab which was invented during this period is one of the biggest money-spinner. A traditional Turkish dish, which was further developed in Berlin, it is difficult today to imagine life without this popular fast-food. "However, the German market has become saturated for food manufacturers. Anyone who wants to increase their sales has to come up with something different and be innovative," says Sabet. "This is one reason why chili chocolate or ginger-beer are introduced in the market."

Back to the roots

External influences lead to changes in cuisine and result in hybrid dishes from different cuisines. "Simply put, it is not exoticism or regionality that influences purchase, but rather it is being aware of the fact that you have chosen high quality and wholesome food," says Sabet. In addition, global trends increasingly trigger countermovements locally. On the one-hand, long-forgotten produce such as parsnips or Jerusalem artichokes (topinambour) are becoming "trendy" again. On the other hand, international culinary delights are now being produced at local sites in Germany.

"International dishes were considered to be of better value and contained an element of surprise during the post-war period. However, they have now entered the mainstream — tomatoes with mozzarella, sushi or pizza no longer surprise anyone. However, German sparkling wines or old potato varieties from Brandenburg still have that effect," says Peter. Many entrepreneurs have adapted to the new tastes , for example, they produce sushi "Made in Germany" for regional supermarkets. "But regionality is, and remains, a trend. 45% of consumers are ready to pay more money for regional products," says Sabet. Peter adds, "For at least ten years now, attributes such as 'local' and 'regional' have been considered a seal of approval, which regional burger joints and cheap supermarkets are now trying to copy."

What does this mean for the logistics industry?

In addition to opportunities, these changes also pose new challenges for logistics. This is because consumers demand fresh products from all over the world on a daily basis. Additionally, the demands from industry and the retail sector are increasing. Logistics has therefore become vital for the global procurement of products now more than ever. In this context, the Nagel-Group, which is one of the leading logistics service provider in Europe, offers logistics processes tailored for customers and supplies customers with fresh products throughout Europe.

Headerbild: @ fotolia - Michael Stumpf

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