Korean Barbeque — K-BBQ — Is Spicing Up America’s Adventurous Taste Buds

Chicago, August 7, 2018 — Long before the PyeongChang, South Korea 2018 Olympic Winter Games Korean culture was diffusing into America at a rapid pace. The Korean wave swept in with K-pop, K-beauty, K-drama, K-food and now, according to recent data from The NPD Group, a leading global information company, K-BBQ. Pounds of Korean barbeque sauce shipped from broadline foodservice distributors to U.S. independent and micro chain* restaurants increased by 120 percent last year and continues to grow.

K-BBQ is primarily sold by broadline distributors to Asian-casual dining and bar & grill restaurants. The strongest growth for these two restaurant concepts were in the mountain/pacific and west south central Census Divisions, where pounds shipped increased by triple digits, reports NPD’s SupplyTrack®, a monthly service that tracks every product shipped from major broadline distributors to their foodservice operators. Boston, Chicago, Philadelphia, Albany, Baltimore, and Houston are among the ten metro areas contributing to 46 percent of K-BBQ growth at bar and grill restaurants. 

The versatility of K-BBQ, which typically comes in a choice of sweet and sour and sweet and savory flavor, lends itself to a variety of foods including burgers, jerky, and tacos. The utilitarian aspect of Korean BBQ sauce opens it up to a broader group of restaurant channels like steak & rib; hamburger, pizza/Italian, and chicken quick service restaurants; barbeque restaurants; and colleges and universities, says NPD.

“The growth of Korean barbeque is an example of how globally-inspired foods are becoming mainstream,” says Annie Roberts, vice president-SupplyTrack. “Ethnic spices are here to stay because food is the experience now, and foodservice distributors, manufacturers, and operators will need to pay close attention to this trend.”

*chains with 3 to 19 units.  

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The NPD Group, Inc.
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