Pork Industry Must Better Meet Hispanics’ Needs

Pork Industry Must Better Meet Hispanics’ Needs
According to the National Pork Board, U.S. Hispanics represent the biggest growth opportunity of the next several decades for the protein

U.S. Hispanics’ preference for pork and increasing purchasing power make the demographic a key audience for the industry, but as Hispanics assimilate, their pork consumption decreases, according to a new report from National Pork Board.

"Time to Tango: Latinos Are Pork's Future," lays out steps that food retailers and packers should take to engage these influential consumers, who represent the biggest growth opportunity of the next several decades.

Discussing the top motivators for Hispanics when choosing retailers and proteins, the report is the latest in the board’s Insight to Action research program delving into key behaviors, attitudes and cultural nuances of U.S. Hispanic shoppers, as well as the first in a series of reports, articles and updates the board plans to provide in the months ahead to help the food industry better respond to Hispanic consumers’ needs.

“Pork is entrenched in Hispanic heritage and culture, and extremely relevant to the fast-growing and economically powerful Hispanic segment,” noted José de Jesús, director of multicultural marketing for the Des Moines, Iowa-based National Pork Board. “The pork industry must proactively engage them and better meet their needs, otherwise we risk losing the Latino consumer.”

According the report, as Hispanics assimilate, the connection between pork and their culture weakens. Often, they can’t find their preferred cuts for traditional dishes in conventional stores, so they substitute other proteins or go to specialty stores. Almost half (49%) of Hispanics bypass conventional retailers as their go-to stores, instead opting for specialty stores, ethnic markets and bodegas. The meat case contributes to this decision, as 44% of Hispanics choose to buy fresh meat in alternative retail channels.

To retain and grow Hispanic consumers’ loyalty, the report offers three key motivators for retailers and packers:

  • Accessibility: 79% of Hispanic consumers shop with a relative and choose family-friendly stores, and more than half opt for stores that sell specialty cuts. Therefore, the shopping experience and value must meet their expectations, and the cuts and preparations they want must be more easily available in conventional stores.
  • Authenticity: Traditional family recipes are important to Hispanics, but their traditions vary according to their country of origin. That being the case, a “hyper-local” retail strategy will work best and should extend beyond the meat case. Having the right cuts available is important, but also offering the seasonings, spices and ingredients necessary to complete traditional pork dishes is just as critical.
  • Health: 63% of unassimilated Hispanics erroneously believe pork is unhealthy, so the industry needs to emphasize the nutritional value of particular cuts and play up pork’s protein profile.

“The food industry is changing rapidly; foresight and adaptability are the keys to survival,” acknowledged David Newman, pig farmer and National Pork Board president. “U.S. Hispanics spend $95 billion a year on consumer packaged goods, and their purchasing power is growing. 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.”

More information about the Insights to Action research can be found online. The board has also created a free marketing toolkit featuring content and information for retailers and packers to employ in their own communications channels.

The National Pork Board commissioned custom research with C+R Research and Datassential. The multiphased custom studies encompassed a range of qualitative methodologies, among them focus groups, in-depth interviews, shop-alongs and dine-alongs, as well as surveying 11,000-plus consumers, including more than 2,000 Hispanic shoppers, and combined foodservice operator interviews, volumetric data and syndicated foodservice data for an in-depth look at the needs, offerings, considerations and motivations that shape Hispanic dining decisions.  

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