Market Trends / Industry News

The ‘Hispanization’ of the American palate

More than ever, big brands make Latino flavors mainstream. Just look down the aisles of a nearby supermarket and pick up “dulce de leche Cheerios” or “dulce de leche” ice cream. Bags of potato chips are flavored with chile, lime and Tapatio hot sauce. Burritos at the nearest Taco Bell or Chipotle restaurants are in plentiful supply. News that McDonald’s has just added “café con leche” to its popular McCafé line of offerings in New York City metro-area and Miami stores makes it clear that Latinos can get a taste of home in fast food restaurants and grocery stores, while simultaneously exposing American taste buds to Latin products.

“The Hispanization of the American palate has been a strong trend for the past five years,” notes Stephen Palacios, executive vice president at consulting and marketing research company Added Value Cheskin. Citing research by the Food Marketing Institute, Palacios points to the trend steadily gaining ground in the mainstream market. And this is only the beginning.

“Chipotle is one of the most popular quick-service restaurants to date–its IPO was one of the most successful in that sector, perhaps ever,” Palacios adds. “That success is clear evidence of the fact that all across America, there’s been a cultivation and preference for Latino flavors, and we’re seeing that more than ever with mainstream brand offerings.”

Latino consumers have a collective purchasing power of $1.2 trillion, and have earned the attention of big box stores, brands and restaurants. Add to that hefty figure the fact that U.S. Latino shoppers make an average of 26 grocery store trips per month—three times more than the general U.S. shopper, according to the most recent figures published FMI—and there’s understandable justification for those boxes of cinnamon churro cereal and cases of lime-infused beer in the supermarket.

Source: TIA Industry Report,

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