Hispanic Grocers are an Important—and Growing—Force

October 4, 2017

Between Sept. 15 and Oct. 15, Hispanic Heritage Month celebrates and highlights all the ways the Hispanic community strengthens American communities. To help honor this important time, we’re highlighting the growing Hispanic supermarket format and the many things they bring to the food retail industry.

Many Hispanic supermarkets are succeeding where many traditional retailers have struggled with loyal Hispanic food consumers, new cultural taste experiences, and Hispanic food culture’s aura of authenticity that appeals to shoppers. In fact, annual sales of Hispanic food and beverages reached $17.5 billion in 2015 and are expected to increase to $21 billion by 2021, according to Research and Markets.

The National Council of La Raza found that Hispanic shoppers spend more of their income on food than other groups. According to a 2014 study by Nielsen, that translates into $175 more on fresh foods per year at traditional supermarkets than the national average.

When it comes to products in their basket, Hispanic shoppers tend to purchase fresh, minimally processed products whenever they can to incorporate as ingredients in their meals. The perimeter departments, including meat, produce, deli, bakery, and seafood, are particularly important to Hispanic consumers. Many Hispanic shoppers consider fresh foods to be an indicator of quality and health, and they also tend to prefer cooking from scratch and adding personal touches.

This trend mirrors the importance of fresh foods to shoppers’ overall experience, as outlined in “The Independent Consumer,” a consumer survey that was conducted online last November by Nielsen on behalf of NGA. When asked about perceptions of their primary store, 77 percent of respondents said it features fresh foods, with 72 percent highlighting that it sells high quality fruits and vegetables. The top reasons for this consumer trend included health reasons (79 percent), value (35 percent), and convenience (28 percent).

Similar to the overall trend, Hispanic shoppers are drawn to the produce department as a fresh and healthy draw. The most typical ingredients from the produce section include beans, guava, and cactus leaves. Even in the meat department, Hispanic consumers focus on fresh. For instance, chick franks index high, likely due to the perceived healthy halo surrounding the chicken while cheese franks, processed cheese in processed meat, index low.

With such a boom in business, many in the supermarket industry are expecting Hispanic grocers to experience explosive growth in the coming years. By some accounts, Hispanic supermarkets are set to become the next major industry format, rising alongside hard discounters and natural and organic grocers. Regardless, supermarket operators should take note of their success differentiating themselves from national chains and ability to reach Hispanic and non-Hispanic shoppers alike.

To learn more about the generations of Hispanic communities that have positively influenced and enriched our nation, visit www.hispanicheritagemonth.gov. To learn more about the attitudes of those who shop at independent and national supermarkets, click HERE.

See also: Hispanic Heritage Month Profile: Carlos Castro of Todos Supermarket