To Hispanics, Taste Matters More than 'Authenticity': Study

CHICAGO - Hispanics clearly prefer Mexican food above all other cuisines when they step out to eat - but they care more that their Latino-styled dishes generally taste good than that they are authentic, according to new research from foodservice market watcher Technomic Information Services here.

Technomic said Census Bureau data now places Hispanics at roughly 44 million-nearly 15 percent of the U.S. population-comprising the U.S. the third largest concentration of Hispanics in the world, after Mexico and Colombia.

"We see that successful foodservice operators and suppliers will need to keep abreast of what these new consumers will expect on restaurant menus, how frequently they'll dine out, and how to best serve them," said Darren Tristano, e.v.p. of Technomic Information Services, which released the Hispanic Foodservice Report.

In a July 2007 survey of more than 1,000 U.S. Hispanic consumers, Technomic found Mexican is clearly the most-preferred cuisine among Hispanic consumers, as indicated by 58 percent of survey respondents. Italian is a distant second (19 percent), followed by American (11 percent).

When ordering Latino-style entrees at full-service restaurants, more than half (58 percent) of the respondents said they are more concerned with the general taste of these menu items than their authenticity. Furthermore, 50 percent of Hispanic consumers believe that if a restaurant offers such foods, it should also offer Latino-style beverages.

Spending is substantial among Hispanic consumers at full-service restaurants; reported individual check averages were $14.80 at lunch and $20 at dinner.

Hispanic consumers are more likely to visit independent restaurants than chains. Among those surveyed, 48 percent had visited full-service independent Mexican restaurants and 34 percent had dined at full-service independent restaurants serving other types of foods.

Technomic said more information about the study is available at

Technomic Information Services has been tracking the foodservice industry for over 40 years, providing industry intelligence, forecasts, data and training support to manufacturers, operators, distributors and others allied to the field.
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