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US pork industry must better meet the needs of Hispanic consumers

A National Pork Board report reveals the steps food retailers and packers must take to connect with influential Hispanic consumers who represent the biggest growth opportunity of the next several decades.

3 October 2019, at 10:31am

The new report, Time to Tango: Latinos are Pork’s Future, is the latest in the National Pork Board’s Insight to Action research programme examining key behaviours, attitudes, and cultural nuances of US Hispanic shoppers. It outlines top motivators for shoppers 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, director of multicultural marketing for the National Pork Board. “The pork industry must proactively engage them and better meet their needs, otherwise we risk losing the Latino consumer.”

pork products in a supermarket fridge

According to the report, Hispanic consumers often can’t find the cuts they want for traditional dishes in mainstream stores, so they use other proteins or shop at speciality stores that offer the service to deliver the cuts they want. Nearly half (49 percent) of Hispanics do not choose mainstream retailers as their go-to store, and instead opt for speciality stores, ethnic markets and bodegas. The meat case is a contributing factor — 44 percent 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: A large proportion (79 percent) of 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 speciality cuts. Therefore, the shopping experience and value must meet 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 than those from Mexico or Central American countries. While two of three Hispanics in the US 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 that are needed to complete those traditional pork dishes is just as important.
  • Health: Nearly two-thirds (63 percent) of unacculturated Hispanics 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. US Hispanics spend $95 billion a year on consumer packaged goods and their purchasing power is growing,” said David Newman, a pig farmer and president of the National Pork Board. “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 the National Pork Board will provide in the months ahead to help the food industry better respond to Hispanic consumers’ needs. The Pork 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.