A new National Pork Board (NPB) report shows that U.S. Latinos’ affinity for pork and growing purchasing power make them a critical audience for the industry, but it also revealed that as Hispanics acculturate, their pork consumption declines. The report, “Time to Tango: Latinos Are Pork’s Future,” identifies steps food retailers and packers must take to connect with these influential consumers, who represent the biggest growth opportunity of the next several decades.
The report is the latest in the NPB’s Insight to Action research program examining key behaviors, attitudes and cultural nuances of U.S. Hispanic shoppers. It outlines top motivators for Hispanics when selecting their preferred retailer and protein choice.
“Pork is entrenched in Hispanic heritage and culture and extremely relevant to the fast-growing and economically powerful Hispanic segment,” said José de Jesús, NPB director of multicultural marketing. “The pork industry must proactively engage them and better meet their needs; otherwise, we risk losing the Latino consumer.”
According to the report, as Hispanic consumers become acculturated in the U.S., the link between pork and culture weakens. In fact, it was discovered that when they can’t find the cuts they want for traditional dishes in mainstream stores, they use other proteins or shop at specialty stores that offer the service to deliver the cuts they want. Nearly half (49%) of Hispanics do not choose mainstream retailers as their go-to store and instead opt for specialty stores, ethnic markets and bodegas. The meat case is a contributing factor: 44% of Hispanics choose to buy their fresh meat at non-mainstream grocery stores.
To maintain and increase loyalty among Hispanic consumers, the report outlines three key motivators retailers and packers must address:
- Accessibility -- Most (79%) Hispanic consumers shop with someone else in their family and seek out stores that offer a family-friendly experience. More than half seek out stores offering specialty cuts. Therefore, the shopping experience and value must meet Latinos’ expectations, and the cuts and preparations they want need to be more easily available in mainstream stores.
- Authenticity -- Traditional family recipes are important to Hispanic consumers, but those traditions vary by the country of origin. What’s relevant to the Cuban or Puerto Rican consumer will be different from the Mexican or Central American consumer. While two of three Hispanics in the U.S. are originally from Mexico, a third are from other nations. A “hyper-local” strategy is best and should extend beyond the meat case. Having the right cuts available is key, but also offering the seasonings, spices and ingredients needed to complete those traditional pork dishes is just as important.
- Health -- Nearly two-thirds (63%) of unacculturated Hispanics mistakenly believe pork is unhealthy. The industry must focus on the nutritional value of specific cuts, including pork’s protein profile.
“The food industry is changing rapidly; foresight and adaptability are the keys to survival. U.S. Hispanics spend $95 billion a year on consumer packaged goods, and their purchasing power is growing,” said NPB president David Newman, a pig farmer. “It’s no longer enough to offer a Hispanic aisle or packaging in Spanish. We need to look at each area of the store and ensure we’re meeting Hispanic consumers’ needs.”
The report is the first in a series of reports, articles and updates NPB will provide in the months ahead to help the food industry better respond to Hispanic consumers’ needs. The board has also developed a free marketing toolkit that includes content and information for retailers and packers to leverage in their own communications channels.
The full report, and more information about the National Pork Board’s Insights to Action research, is available at www.Pork.org/marketing.