Handheld breakfast options are fun and offer convenient portability for busy consumers who just want a quick grab ‘n’ go breakfast. Not only do they offer on-the-go ease to consumers, but also an endless variety of options, with carriers, proteins and flavors. However, these days, craving consumers can get them just about anywhere, including restaurants, hotels, convenience stores, gas stations and more. So to grab a competitive edge, more and more operators are looking for new and interesting choices to turn consumers’ heads their way.

One way is to add an ethnic touch to their handhelds. And that’s because today, consumers are not just demanding traditional breakfast favorites, but have also expressed an interest in bold ethnic flavors and adventurous menu options. According to Datassential, breakfast handhelds in general have increased 18% on menus, more popularly featured in fast casual and chain restaurants. However, consumer preferences are constantly evolving, and ethnic mash-ups and flavors are also emerging as a hot trend. So while breakfast sandwiches are still a classic favorite, 35% of consumers say they are more interested in ethnic flavors now than a year ago – Technomic Flavor Consumer Trend Report. 57% of consumers are interested in seeing more international or ethnic fusion cuisine on the menu. – Mintel, International Food Trends.

“Handheld items need to be approachable and packed with flavor. They should take you somewhere.” – Jaco Smith, LeChon

What follows below are examples of some worldwide handheld cuisines that are gaining popularity on U.S. menus. They show that there are endless ways to incorporate an ethnic twist to a breakfast handheld. Adding a touch of culinary creativity, such as simple additions like spices, sauces and carriers, to quality proteins like those available from the extensive Smithfield Culinary portfolio, can transform a typical item into a more exotic global choice.

Probably the fastest-growing ethnic influence on breakfast, Mexican cuisine is ubiquitous in breakfast burritos. Convenient items would include a breakfast burrito with bacon, ham or sausage; or tortas, a sandwich made with any pork product and sauce like chile verde.

South America
Latin-influenced breakfasts tend to be hearty and protein-rich to get people ready for the day’s routine. Choose from arepas, which are griddled corncakes with eggs or meat; empanadas, stuffed with sweet or savory fillings; or cachitos, ham-filled crescent-shaped rolls. Incorporate bold, spicy flavors and spices, such as cumin and cinnamon, or garlic to turn up the appeal.

Fifty-six percent of consumers are very interested in Korean cuisine according to the Mintel Report, Innovation on the Menu. A perfect handheld option would be a donkaas pork schnitzel breakfast sandwich with gochujang, a zesty red chili paste.

Eastern Mediterranean
As diverse in ethnicities as there are breakfast styles, some Mediterranean breakfasts feature olives, fruits and breads complemented by different styles of ham or salami. A popular on-the-go item would be a bacon and horta pita with scrambled eggs, dandelion greens and graviera cheese.

There’s no one style of breakfast in India; rather, there are as many delicious variations as there are different regions and different types of ethnicities. Watch for a chicken or pulled pork frankie, using a paratha flatbread wrap and spiced with coriander and cumin with tomato jam, or dosa, a lentil and rice pancake with chutney.

It’s no secret that ethnic cuisine is trending on the menu, and there are endless ways to incorporate an ethnic twist into any classic breakfast handheld. What’s less known, however, is how simple those transformations can actually be.