Authentic Asian Sauces

Newsletter - Q1 2021


Q1 2021

Exploring consumer food trends we expect to see in 2021 and beyond.

Lee Kum Kee Newsletter  Q1 2021
the flavor
is kee
Unlocking Menu Potential

After a year that upended predictions, we’re confident that we have a more concrete sense of what consumers want heading into 2021. Some of the food trends outlined here have been brewing since before the pandemic, and others have sprouted up as a direct result of changes restaurants and consumers have made as they deal with limitations. All four trends share one trait: They can be successful on any menu with the right applications. Read on as we dig into the trends and highlight solutions for your menu.

Opposites Attract: Sweet Meets Umami
Sweet and salty has a sophisticated sibling. “Craveable” might be the best word to describe the phenomenon that sparks taste buds when sweet and umami tastes are combined in the same dish. While typical sweet and salty pairings tend to be more straightforward—such as apple pie and cheddar cheese, chicken and waffles, or the caramel and cheese popcorn mix popularized in Chicago—sweet and umami pairings tend to be more complex and well-rounded, leaning in to the savory element more than the saccharine. These flavor combinations are popping up in dishes like sesame-chocolate cookies made with bittersweet chocolate chips and nutty sesame oil, but consumers can also satisfy sweet and umami cravings with certain sauces and condiments, such as endlessly versatile hoisin sauce, which is made with sweet potato and fermented soy beans.
Hoisin Truffle Devotion 
Trend in Action
Hoisin Truffle Devotion - These delectable truffles deliver a one-two punch of sweet and umami thanks to the combination of semi-sweet chocolate and hoisin sauce.  Get the Recipe
Featured Lee Kum Kee Product
Hoisin Sauce -  A classic hoisin sauce made with spices, ground soybeans and sweet potatoes. It’s excellent for marinades, sauce bases, and as a topping for burgers, pizza and wings. View Product
Explore This Trend Further with Additional Lee Kum Kee Products
Necessity of Takeout 
continues to be the preferred method of dining, with nearly two-thirds of consumers ordering takeout at least once a month.2
The Necessity of Takeout and Delivery
For restaurants, 2020 has been a year of constant adaptation. As the pandemic brought dine-in service to a crashing halt in most of the country, operators have turned to takeout, drive-thru and delivery to stay open and safely serve customers, whose main concerns are safety and quality. Operators have revamped how they package items, giving customers peace of mind and a better end product with tamper-proof packaging that also maintains the integrity of food in transport. Portion control servings—like sriracha, hoisin or soy sauce packets—are an easy way to add flavor, value and safety to takeout meals. Menus have changed, too. Some restaurants have limited the number of SKUs to streamline back-of-house operations, and all are looking for cross-functional products that allow them to do more with less. When staff is stretched thin, flavorful ready-to-use sauces can do the heavy lifting by functioning as everything from a salad dressing component, soup base or marinade to a zesty dip for appetizers.
Trend in Action
Steak Salad - This flavorful take on a Niçoise salad features grilled flank steak that’s been marinated in delicious Panda Brand Black Pepper Grilling Sauce, served atop a bed of salad greens along with potatoes, green beans and radishes.  Get the Recipe
Featured Lee Kum Kee Product
Panda Brand Black Pepper Grilling Sauce - Combining the natural spiciness of black pepper with soy, this marinade-friendly item is also perfect as a finishing sauce for proteins and veggies.  View Product
Explore This Trend Further with Additional Lee Kum Kee Products
To-Go Packets: Hoisin Sauce, Gluten Free Soy Sauce, Less Sodium Soy Sauce, Sriracha Chili and more!
more than
of consumers choose spicy options when dining out and making meals at home.3
Chilies Gain Steam
Some like it hot! Spicy food continues to surge around the globe, but the driving force behind consumption varies depending on the consumer. In the U.S., operators and manufacturers have responded to mainstream demand for Scoville units with extra-hot items like Nashville-style hot chicken and ghost-pepper-flavored everything (e.g. chips, donuts and tacos). And while some diners seek out blazingly hot foods to consume as a badge of honor, others are more intrigued by nuanced flavors. Consumers are getting more familiar with region-specific spice profiles on the menu, seeking out offerings made with mouth-numbing Sichuan-style chili sauce, sweet and spicy Indonesian-style sambal oelek, and fiery Chiu Chow-style chili oil. Flavors and spice levels can vary greatly depending on the pepper, meaning there’s something for everyone willing to explore the world of chilies. And those who do may enjoy purported health benefits—chilies contain vitamins and minerals, carotenoids, which have antioxidant properties, and capsaicin, which may lower blood pressure and boost metabolism.
Trend in Action
Can’t Stop Won’t Stop Wings - With a spicy kick that keeps diners grabbing for “just one more,” these broiled wings are tossed in irresistible Chiu Chow Style Chili Oil and served with lightly salted Persian cucumbers on the side.  Get the Recipe
Featured Lee Kum Kee Product
Chiu Chow Style Chili Oil - A savory chili and garlic sauce made using an authentic recipe from Chiu Chow, China. Use in stir-fries and noodle dishes or as a finishing drizzle. View Product
Explore This Trend Further with Additional Lee Kum Kee Products
Global Cravings 
Consumers are most excited to eat
Asian food
at restaurants again, with 30% of consumers craving Chinese, Japanese and other Asian fare.4
Global Cravings
Diners are spinning the globe to satisfy their cravings for flavor and convenience. Stuck at home more than usual, some consumers are gravitating toward cuisines they might not be able to easily reproduce in their own kitchens, such as Chinese, Mexican, Korean or Japanese. And with the boom of food-focused TV shows that can instantly transport viewers to far-flung destinations, diners are taking it a step further and looking for authentic region-specific foods, such as Hunan and Sichuan cuisines from China or the tempting street foods of Seoul and Bangkok. We'll continue to see more exciting global dishes and mashups at independents and chains, likely driven in part by the adventurous palates of Millennials and Gen Zers. Operators can easily add global flair to their menu by pairing authentic sauces with familiar formats.
Trend in Action
Pork Cutlet with Tonkotsu Gravy - Breaded pork cutlets fried to crispy perfection and topped with a savory gravy made with Japanese Style Pork Bone Soup Base and fresh scallions. Serve with noodles, mashed potatoes or rice. Get the Recipe
Featured Lee Kum Kee Product
Japanese Style Pork Bone Soup Base - Just add water to this rich soup base that adds flavor to broths, marinades, seasonings, stir-fries and more. View Product
Explore This Trend Further with Additional Lee Kum Kee Products
NEW Korean-Style BBQ Sauce – Coming soon!
NEW Sichuan Fire Sauce – Coming soon!

1Datassential MenuTrends, US menu penetration growth 2016-2020.

2Technomic, “Industry Insights: A roundup of noteworthy foodservice findings for the week of September 21, 2020.”

3Food Navigator, “Why the Hot & Spicy Food Trend is an Exciting Opportunity,” November 5, 2020.

4Datassential One Table Consumer Report, June 2020.

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