The geography of taste: how our food preferences are formed

The globalisation effect

As the world shrinks, regional preferences will surely be subject to increasing dilution, but this is happening slower than you might think. On the one hand, says international food industry consultant Chris Lukehurst, you’ll see Italian teens shunning their local vino in favour of American-style beer. And while coffee and crisps were “almost unknown” in China a decade ago, they’re now rapidly growing markets there.

On the other hand, multinational companies alter their products for each market. Take fast food. In China, KFC’s headline product is a chicken burger, and both McDonald’s and KFC have much more visible salad content in recognition of the three food groups necessary in every meal: grains, protein and vegetables. And rice remains more common than fries.

Even Nescafé gets regional adjustments. “In the UK,” says Lukehurst, “Gold Blend has a very low content of robusta and is very smooth and rich in flavour, while in the Philippines Nescafé has a much greater robusta content and a stronger, more full bodied taste. The degree of roasting and the way that the coffee is processed will be adjusted, too.”


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