CHICAGO ? Now making up 16% of the US population according to the 2010 US Census, Hispanics are an increasingly important customer base for the foodservice industry. They currently make 9.8 billion restaurant visits annually, according to The NPD Group. How and when Hispanics use restaurants depends on their primary language — English or Spanish, NPD foodservice market research uncovered.

Spanish-speaking Hispanics are more likely to depend on restaurants for morning meals and snacks than English-speaking Hispanics and non-Hispanics, according to a study NPD conducted to determine the differences in restaurant usage between English-speaking and Spanish-speaking Hispanics. Of the restaurant visits made by Spanish-speaking Hispanics, 31% occur at the morning meal and 22 percent take place during the afternoon or evening snack daypart.

Regarding both non-Hispanics and English-speaking Hispanics, 18% of visits occur at the morning meal and 15 percent take place during the afternoon or evening snack time.

Hispanics are much more likely to have children with them than non-Hispanics when visiting restaurants. More than half of restaurant visits from Spanish-dominant Hispanics and one-third of visits from English-speaking Hispanics include parties with children, NPD finds. In contrast, only 29% of visits by non-Hispanics include parties with children.

“According to the Pew Research Center, 40 percent of Hispanics are most comfortable speaking Spanish, and our study finds that Spanish-speaking Hispanics use restaurants differently than English-speaking Hispanics,” said Bonnie Riggs, restaurant industry analyst at NPD. “These are important considerations when marketing to Hispanics. The messaging and communications need to be relevant to each group.”