According to Datassential, 54% of consumers regularly buy internationally inspired foods and beverages. Discover new ways to bring creativity and flavor from around the world to boost sales.

The pandemic hindered most people’s travel plans, so it makes sense to see an uptick in interest in foods from abroad. It really hit its stride last year, and the trend only continues to grow. Spice up menus, heat up sales, and satisfy adventurous eaters with these tips on incorporating international flavors into dishes.

Chili Crisp

This classic oil-based Chinese condiment packs a wallop of flavor. The heat of the spicy chilis, combined with savory fried garlic and a bite of shallot and pungent ginger, brings an umami flavor that is crave-able and incredibly versatile. It goes well as a spread on sandwiches, on the brunch menu to take eggs to the next level, or drizzled on avocado toast. You can even use it on dark chocolate or as an ice cream topper! Or create your own in-house using items like McCormick® Culinary Crushed Red Pepper and Black Pepper.

Ume Plum

Hailing from Japan, ume plums are apricots that are extremely astringent and bitter, yet inedible when raw. To make them more palatable, they are pickled or salted, and the result is a small pink orb of sourness that is traditionally served with rice. But the possibilities extend way beyond rice, as umeboshi (the preserved ume plum) is an excellent source of cheek-puckering flavor that lends itself well as a citrus stand-in for vinaigrettes or sauces. They can also be used to make into a syrup for a special and intriguing cocktail or as a unique marinade for tofu or tempeh.


Prevalent in Latin, Caribbean (specifically Jamaican), and Middle Eastern cuisines, hibiscus is available in a dried form that brings a beautiful fuchsia color and tangy flavor to recipes. While including hibiscus in tea is standard practice, it also has a variety of savory applications, from quesadillas to tenderizing meat. Dried hibiscus is quite affordable, making it a great ingredient to experiment with for trendy aperitifs, lattes, and desserts like cakes or panna cotta.


This spice is a staple on tables in Japan. Shichimi togarashi, or seven spice seasoning, combines dried red chiles, sesame seeds, orange peel, sichuan peppercorns, and nori flakes for a spicy, citrusy flavor. Traditionally used on udon noodles, ramen, miso soup, and rice dishes, the growing popularity of the spice has many restaurant owners looking for creative ways to incorporate it into menus. It’s a simple, yet effective way to elevate ingredients and dishes. Consider using McCormick Culinary Japanese Seven Spice to bring extra umami flavor to your broths, dips, oysters, grilled foods, and dressings, or even experiment with it on pizza or in cocktails.


Tahini’s been on an upward trend for a while now, but its rise in popularity shows no sign of slowing down. The sesame paste is traditional in Middle Eastern cuisines and mild enough for guests looking to dip their toes in international flavors. It’s also versatile enough to elevate fancier dishes for the more adventurous eaters. It’s extremely savory and nutty and pairs well with everything from garlic, for a creamy dressing to punch up kale salad, drizzled over grilled meat, or even incorporated into cookies with some sea salt to bring together salty, savory, and sweet in one dish!


A blend of robust thyme, nutty sesame seeds, warm cumin, and zesty lemon, this Middle Eastern spice has been trending on restaurant menus for the last few years, but a recent Datassential report forecasts za'atar growing 342% over the next four years. Consider using McCormick Culinary Za'atar Seasoning to mix with olive oil for a zesty dressing or a dip for flatbread. It also elevates beef, chicken, or lamb when used as a dry rub, punches up roasted veggies, and is the perfect seasoning to pair with a creamy Greek yogurt-style labneh for a traditional herb-forward appetizer or LTO.

For an in-depth exploration into the future of internationally inspired flavor, check out McCormick’s Flavor Forecast.

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