Latinos reshape the American palate

Retailers and brands should amp up appeals to Hispanic consumers, who influence through tastes and sheer buying clout.

January 21, 2013

Ole!  Retailers like the zest in food and beverage sales emanating from Hispanic influences in some categories.

Sales of some American classics have been overtaken, says Packaged Facts.  This could have families all over reinventing the backyard barbecue, says F3.  It would be just one example of the Latino recast of the American palate.  

According to a new study, Hispanic Foods and Beverages in the U.S., 5th Edition, by Packaged Facts, salsa rings up nearly twice the dollar sales of ketchup, and tortillas and taco kits outsell hamburgers and hot dog buns in the United States.

A similar dynamic spreads across the supermarket.  Here’s a sampler:

  • In the meat case, chuck is popular.  
  • In produce, Hispanics are some of the most prolific purchasers.  
  • In dairy, Hispanics consumed 15% of the nation’s milk, cheese and yogurt in 2010 (25.8 billion pounds), and are projected to consume 22% (41.1 billion pounds) in 2030 and 27% (58.9 billion pounds) in 2050, according to Understanding the Dairy Opportunity Among Hispanic Consumers, a 2010 study done by Dairy Management Inc. for the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy.  Hispanic youth is the gateway to household dairy purchases:  81% of Hispanic moms with children in the household surveyed by New American Dimensions say they eat cheese at least a few times a week vs. 62% of women without kids at home; 61% of Hispanic moms with kids 12 or under at home say they eat yogurt at least a few times a week vs. 48% of women without kids at home.  
  • Hispanics eat more eggs and non-toasted bread for breakfasts that are typically warm, according to NPD Group’s National Eating Trends 2012 Hispanic study.
  • In deli, burritos, fajitas, and Latin-spiced rotisserie chickens, meats and cheeses are increasingly common—and appeal to all kinds of consumers.

Trends like these propelled the U.S. market for Hispanic foods and beverages past $8 billion in 2012, up 3% from 2011 and more than 8% from 2009, notes Packaged Facts.  The research firm projects nearly $11 billion worth of demand by 2017, up 31% from today.  “Mainstream consumers are becoming more adventurous with less well-known Hispanic flavors and textures,” says David Sprinkle, research director, Packaged Facts.  Nearly three-quarters of consumers surveyed (73%) say they use Mexican food and ingredients—a figure that approaches usage rates of nearly 84% among Hispanics.

Hispanics are key to sales advances of retailers and CPG brands—because their population and buying power are rising fast, their households are younger and larger (3.8 persons vs. 2.5 non-Hispanic), and they’re willing to spend more for food at home (5.7% annual growth vs. 2.5% annual growth non-Hispanic), notes a 2012 study by the Association of Hispanic Advertising Agencies.  The report cites Coca-Cola, Unilever, General Mills and Kellogg’s among companies fully realizing their Hispanic potential.

Univision’s account of the research states, “Hispanic food at home cumulative lifetime spending is over 50% higher than that of the general population, and Hispanic personal care cumulative lifetime spending is about 33% higher than that of the general population.”  F3 says to mix that with the U.S. Census Bureau forecast that Hispanics will account for 30.2% of the U.S. population by 2050, up from 16.0% in 2010, and see their powerful influence is undeniable.

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