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NEW YORK — In a new installment of his video series with Convenience Store News parent company, Stagnito Business Information + Edgell Communications, Phil Lempert discusses a new report from New York University’s chair of nutrition and food studies Krishnendu Ray that found what we are willing to pay for certain cuisines is an indicator of how we think about race, class and ethnicity.
Ray analyzed data from Zagat and discovered that Americans have been willing to shell out more for French food than just about any other cuisine since at least 1984. The same analysis revealed Americans expect to pay less for Chinese, Thai and Vietnamese cuisine.
What these findings demonstrate is that the price we are willing to pay for different foods is tied directly to people’s ideas about class and social status. Ray offers two examples that might make you wonder just how shallow we, and our taste buds, really are: Italian food and Japanese cuisine, according to Lempert.
In the 1930s and 1940s, Americans shunned away from the Italian cuisine brought to U.S. shores by mostly poor Italian immigrants. The Italian population climbed the social and economic ladder and it affected the way we look at Italian food.
Japanese cuisine experienced a change in the 1990s when the price of a meal in a Japanese restaurant went up (in 2014, it ranked second, right behind French food, up from sixth place in 1986). Ray's report observed this coincided with an American perception about wealth in Japan, which has led to Japanese chefs more frequently appearing on “Top Chef” lists.
What’s going on today? Ray says our fascination with quinoa, avocados, mangos and Bolivian cherimoya is the result of Americans growing more leery of industrialized, processed food systems, “so anything poor, exotic people do far away could be a good thing.”
As CSNews Online previously reported, Lempert and Stagnito + Edgell forged an exclusive strategic alliance that allows Lempert to provide content and programming to multiple CPG retail media brands within the Stagnito + Edgell portfolio, including Convenience Store News and Progressive Grocer.
Lempert is founder of The Lempert Report, a food trends publication, and SupermarketGuru.com, a leading online resource for food safety, products, trends and shopping tips that attracts more than nine million visitors annually.
Click above to watch the video.