- A new report from the National Pork Board suggests producers, packers and retailers should take steps to connect with Latino consumers who may gravitate to other protein sources if they can't get appropriate pork products for their traditional recipes.
- The report noted the demographic's purchasing power will soon exceed $1.7 trillion — and that power is growing at twice the rate of other U.S. groups. Latinos in America spend $95 billion annually on CPG items, the report said, and they have "a natural affinity for pork that’s unrivaled" by others.
- The situation renders Latinos in the U.S. a prime audience for the industry, but as they begin to assimilate into the broader culture, their pork consumption declines, the board said in a release. Its report, "Time to Tango: Latinos are Pork's Future," lays out how to motivate them by stressing accessibility, authenticity and pork's nutritional value and protein profile.
Several cultural factors are contributing to the decline in pork consumption among Latinos, and the report indicates that industry is finding this alarming. The report breaks down cultural differences in perception and consumption habits to help the industry keep these consumers.
Latino consumers often shop in specialty stores, ethnic markets and bodegas to find the specialty cuts of meat they want for traditional dishes, but haven't been able to find in mainstream outlets. According to the board's report, almost half of these shoppers don't patronize mainstream retailers, and 44% opt to purchase fresh meat at other types of stores.
As a result, the report recommends mainstream retailers cater to these customers by better tailoring the shopping experience, product offerings and overall value to meet their expectations. Retailers also need to focus on hyper-local products — along with the seasonings, spices and other ingredients — to fulfill the demands of a variety of Spanish-speaking consumers whose traditions may vary by country of origin.
The industry needs to address a common belief that pork is not healthy — something 63% of Latinos who are not acculturated believe, the report said. The solution is to focus on how specific cuts are nutritious, containing complete lean protein and numerous vitamins and minerals.
It's understandable the industry doesn't want to lose a prime audience used to consuming lots of pork in traditional recipes such as tacos al pastor, pork tostadas, carnitas and pozole. And it makes sense to reach out as soon as possible with approaches designed to tap into Latino purchasing power, which is growing much faster than other demographic groups.
Latinos are discerning consumers across the board. According to Nielsen data, this ethnic group is helping to drive the increase in organic product sales across the U.S., spending 13% more in the segment in 2018. More than 60% of Latinos were making more purchases of organic produce than ever before, Packaged Facts found in 2017 — largely to use in traditional recipes.
If this demographic group is so interested in high-quality ingredients, it follows that they are looking for quality pork products. The report suggests that retailers do a bit extra to target this group, taking steps including hiring Latino meat staffers who understand the culture and can cater to these consumers, providing freshly butchered and packaged cuts of meat for traditional dishes, and using store sets and banners to market directly to them.
Targeted outreach opportunities notwithstanding, the overall picture for the pork industry is relatively positive. Pork consumption has increased in the last four years in the U.S., which is the top global producer. And production is likely to rise. The nation's hog population is steadily growing, and is 3% larger today than in June, according to a report from the USDA.
It remains to be seen whether U.S. pork producers will take the report's recommendations to heart. Even though times are good for the industry right now, it would be smart to invest in targeting a powerful ethnic group, which will continue to pass on traditions and recipes where pork plays a starring role. The larger producers, such as Smithfield, JBS, Triumph Foods, Seaboard Foods and Prestage Foods, may boost their bottom lines even more if they do.