DES MOINES, Iowa – Recent findings by the National Pork Board (NPB) showed that US Latino customers are growing in purchasing power for pork and will be an essential industry audience.

The new market report titled, “Time to Tango: Latinos are Pork’s Future,” showed how retailers and packers need to connect with the Hispanic community who have the largest growth potential in the future. This overview is part of the NPB’s Insight to Action research program which is examining key behaviors, attitude and cultural nuances of US Hispanic shoppers. It also outlines their preferred retailer and protein of 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.”

The report said that Hispanic consumers have assimilated more with American retail habits, but they still can’t find the pork cuts they want for traditional dishes in mainstream stores. This means Latinos still must go to a specialty store that offers the pork needed. NPB said 49 percent of Hispanics do not choose mainstream retailers as their go-to store, and instead opt for specialty stores, ethnic markets and bodegas. When it comes to meat, 44 percent of Hispanics decide to buy their meat at non-mainstream grocery stores.

In its report, the NPB laid out three key factors for retailers and packers to gain more customers.

First is accessibility. Latino shoppers usually go to the store with their family, so they want a family-friendly experience. NPB’s report said that customers also need more specialty cut options in mainstream stores to meet their expectations.

A second key is having authentic ingredients for individual Hispanic cultures. NPB said that what’s relevant to the Cuban or Puerto Rican consumer will be different than those from Mexico or Central American countries.

Finally, NPB said there needs to be education on the health of pork. Sixty-three percent of US Latinos believe pork is unhealthy. Industry executives are encouraging people to focus on the nutritional value of specific cuts, including pork 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, 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.”