Hispanic food sector sales skyrocket

By Caroline Scott-Thomas

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Marketing research United states Hispanic and latino americans

Sales of Hispanic foods and beverages have soared in the US, up by nearly a third in the past five years – and that growth is set to continue, according to a new report on the sector from Packaged Facts.

The market research organization’s latest report, “Hispanic Food and Beverages in the US: Market and Consumer Trends in Latino Cuisine”​, said that US sales of Hispanic food and drink were nearly $7bn in 2009 – up 28.7 percent from $5.4bn in 2005. In addition, Packaged Facts has predicted that sales in the Hispanic food and beverage sector will hit $9.5bn by 2014.

The report says that the sector’s overall growth is being driven by the rapidly increasing Hispanic population in the United States. In 2006 Americans of Hispanic and Latino origin were estimated to make up 14.8 percent of the country’s population. The Census Bureau has projected that they would account for 30 percent of the population by 2050.

Drawing on numerous studies into Hispanic consumers’ behavior, the report said: “Hispanics have distinct differences from the non-Hispanic population, which is why it is so important for food and beverage marketers to gain a better understanding of the Hispanic consumer…It is also important for marketers to understand that if they are targeting Hispanics, they must go beyond the term ‘Hispanic’ to recognize that there are some 20 different nationalities among the overall Hispanic population.”

The report also suggested that several Hispanic foods – such as nachos, tortilla chips or salsa – have become so assimilated into American culture that many would question whether they still count as ethnic cuisine.

Market researchers have been saying for some time that changing US demographics bring opportunities for marketers to target different ethnic groups, which can have distinct trends in shopping habits.

Foodies’ influence

Other factors influencing growth in the Hispanic food sector include better distribution channels and the rise of the ‘foodie’, Packaged Facts said. The market researcher has defined foodies as “having an avid interest in the latest food fads”​ and says that around 14 percent of the population falls into this category, with the potential to have a profound impact on American food trends.

“This group is important for setting trends that impact the wider mainstream consumer market. But even without their leadership, the mainstream has taken to Hispanic foods over the years, starting with a taste for salsa and chips, Mexican beers, chili, and nachos, and expanding to include burritos, enchiladas, tacos, and quesadillas,”​ the report said.

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