Food and communal meals have always been a mainstay of familial connections among Hispanic consumers. While busy work and school schedules may hamper the making of traditional meals Monday to Friday, weekend meals and holiday celebrations remain a central tenet to the heritage. In an effort to bridge the modern and the traditional, Rumba Meats, a product line from Cargill, offers Hispanic consumers a range of traditional and value-added beef cuts that allow home cooks ways to celebrate their heritage through mealtimes with an edge of convenience.
A recent survey conducted by Rumba Meats found 90% of Hispanic consumers purchase fresh beef regularly and these shoppers have a higher likelihood to eat thin-sliced beef than other demographics. Forty-four percent report buying a wide range of non-traditional beef cuts such as tripe, cheek meat and marrow bones regularly. A July 2020 report from Nielsen Spectra discovered Hispanic consumers spend 14% more dollars on fresh beef relative to their population size.
“About five years ago, we looked at opportunities to market to retail consumers who were underserviced,” said Hilary Gerard, retail beef brand manager, Cargill, Minneapolis. “We found the Hispanic audience offers a lot of purchasing power. This is a demographic that’s growing in size and its members are younger than the average US consumer.”
While nine out of 10 Hispanics purchase a range of common beef cuts regularly, the availability of value-added meat products is also critical to attract Hispanic shoppers. Latinos over-index in common cuts such as steak roast and beef brisket over Caucasians and African Americans and are twice as likely than other ethnicities to regularly purchase value-added meat products, according to Rumba Meats Proprietary Consumer Research 2020. Rumba Meats’ convenient, time-saving, pre-sliced beef options offer Hispanic consumers easy shortcuts for speed-scratch recipes and meal planning options.
Capitalizing on “comida y familia” (food and family), Rumba Meats offers Hispanic consumers ways to create favorite meals using traditional low-and-slow cooking methods with a modern touch through the use of an Instant Pot, a pressure cooker and multi-cooker combo, or a Crock-Pot. This element of modern convenience is a critical offering among the 70% of Hispanics who cite the importance of maintaining cultural and culinary traditions by cooking from scratch. The desire for scratch or fast-scratch cooking is also higher among Hispanics as compared to African American and Caucasian consumers.
During COVID-19 stay-at-home orders, convenient protein options became a time-saving feature for families who were dining out less and eating more meals at home. Throughout the early months of the pandemic, Rumba Meats reported increased demand for its protein line, which Gerard cited as a testament to the consumer shift to retail and cooking from home. Gerard anticipates another spike in protein consumption with cooler weather on the way and the beginning of caldo (soup and stew) season, which benefits from low-and-slow cooking methods.
Also conducting monthly surveys to understand consumers’ meat shopping behaviors during the pandemic was Midan Marketing. The Chicago and Mooresville, NC-based organization found Hispanics citing greater consumption of meat since the beginning of the pandemic as compared with other audience demographics, according to Michael Uetz, a principal at Midan Marketing.
Acosta, a Jacksonville, Fla.-based sales and marketing service company, learned Hispanics were more likely to stock up on meat and poultry products at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic than all US shoppers. The company conducted its sixth wave of Coronavirus Hispanic Fresh Meat research in mid-May.
Reasons for stocking up included minimizing store visits, concerns about shortages on future shopping trips, more meals being cooked at home and concerns about higher food prices on future shopping trips. If a specific meat item isn’t available, Hispanics are more likely to sub another protein or to switch to a meat alternative or a vegetarian option, according to the Acosta Custom Shopper Community Survey.
Within the demographic, beef remains the primary go-to protein for many traditional recipes, and beef and chicken are the highest-consumed proteins, followed by pork. But no matter the protein chosen, the meat must be of the highest quality. The attribute of quality is the most-important factor among Hispanics when purchasing fresh meat.
“Quality is of very high importance,” said Jay Furnald, Consumer Insights Manager for Cargill Protein. “Seventy-nine percent of Hispanic consumers say high-quality meat is extremely important and quality is a more important factor than price, especially when making purchases for weekend meals and special occasions.”
Finding new ways to enhance and differentiate protein choices for consumers within the growing Hispanic market becomes even more important when considering the $2.3 trillion buying power of the demographic, according to Nielsen. These stats will continue to rise as the Hispanic demographic is anticipated to reach 28.8 million by 2024.
Strength in numbers is also significant when it comes to smartphone use among Hispanic consumers. Latinos are some of the heaviest mobile users with 98% reporting owning a smartphone, a number higher than other demographics. The Nielsen Cultural Connectivity Transformed Report found Hispanics spend an average of 30+ hours per week on their smartphone.
“We’ve been able to capitalize on the willingness of Hispanics to use digital channels around food and online grocery shopping,” Gerard said. “Through these digital channels, we’re able to deliver on the needs of Hispanic consumers by working within their culinary needs around recipe shortcuts, speed-scratch recipes, meal prep and ways to repurpose protein. This might include offering a recipe shortcut that takes an existing salsa base and adding fresh ingredients or slow-cooking something that can be used for a main dish and then repurposed the next day.”
Hispanics rely on TV, radio and social media to inform, educate, communicate, share experiences and seek support. Reliance on social media platforms accessed through a smartphone has further risen as Hispanics have chosen social media platforms as their primary source of information about the coronavirus. The intense digital usage cited by Nielsen lines up with related findings by Rumba Meats showing Hispanics as being more likely to grocery shop online and seek out last-minute mealtime inspiration, recipes and fast-scratch ideas through social media platforms.
“In some of our previous qualitative work, we found with acculturation there’s been an erosion around some of the traditional cooking methods and meals,” Furnald said. “Two-thirds of the participants in our survey said it was important to preserve traditions and that includes buying special cuts for holidays and occasions around the gathering of friends and family.”
Because of this, many brands are choosing to prioritize use of digital communications among Hispanics. The demographic strongly relies on social networks as a way to maintain traditions, something of particular importance for Hispanic consumers who are looking to find a balance between the old and the new, Furnald said.
“As we’ve seen in the research and in the purchasing patterns, the implications of the pandemic and changes to the shopping and consumption behaviors among Hispanic consumers will continue to be key in understanding the shifts happening in the current environment and in the times to come,” Gerard said.