Packaged Meats among Hispanics: Complex Tastes and Consumption Patterns among the Highest Spenders in America

Aug 11, 11 Packaged Meats among Hispanics: Complex Tastes and Consumption Patterns among the Highest Spenders in America

By Tony D’Andrea, PhD, Director of Planning and Research at SJG

Whether shopping at modern supermarkets or socializing at traditional carnicería butchers, Hispanics have emerged as the highest spenders of meat products in America.  According to the most recent data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Latino households spend $955 dollars each year on meat products, comparatively to $826 by general market households. In some ways, Hispanics reflect general market trends, with family size as the main driver of meat consumption in America. Larger families tend to consume more beef, whereas smaller families, higher education and higher age see a gradual decline in beef and pork, giving way to poultry and ‘light’ versions of packaged meats.

Beyond such basic generalizations, Latinos do differ in significant ways in meat purchase and consumption. Unlike Whites and African Americans, meat consumption among Latinos remains largely uniform across the income gamut. Both high- and low-income Hispanics buy meats in larger quantities, as indicated in the 150+ index for Hispanics in the highest weight purchase range (8+ pounds of cold cuts per week) according to a Packaged Facts report. Also importantly, Hispanics are more price-sensitive, and, regardless of income level, they seek good-value deals, and also substitute closely related meat products as a reaction to price change.

Tastes and preferences in packaged meats among Hispanics also differ from the general market in significant ways. Latinos are heavy consumers of chicken sausages and frankfurters, as noted in a whopping 250+ index detected by market monitors and academic studies alike. Also high are beef sausages, spicy meats, and arc/rope-shape sausages, all indexing in the 150-180 preference range. Conversely, links, patties, kielbasas, as well as uncooked meats and ‘light’ delis, are not as highly consumed by Hispanics, as indicated by the mere 60-70 range in preference index. Hovering around 100 index points, processed pork, particularly bacon, provide interesting marketing opportunities. Historically valued across Latin and Iberian cultures, pork-based products gain the special favor of Hispanics when marketed at distinctive branding and promotion points.

Add to this complexity the geographical and nationality differences affecting the various ways Hispanics purchase and consume packaged meats. As such, whereas beef is favored by Latinos residing in the Midwest, poultry and pork have an edge in the South. Mexicans consume slightly more beef than Central Americans who may favor poultry, whereas Puerto Ricans, in turn, have a rich seafood tradition, and South Americans (particularly Argentineans, Uruguayans and Chileans) favor thick beef steaks.  In sum, although often neglected in general market strategies, these subcultural differences may have a huge impact when aggregated nationwide.  According to Jim Legg, executive vice president of leadership and innovation at multicultural ad agency The San Jose Group, “there is an emotional connection by which Hispanics appreciate having meat in their meals. Understanding this connection is very important in communication strategies toward these populations.”

Last but not least, acculturation is an additional key into Hispanic meat marketing. Roughly defined as the gradual (yet complex) process of acquisition of a second culture, most Hispanics incorporate some general market traits, albeit resulting in quite original, often unexpected, hybrid lifestyles. For example, even though the time they dedicate to cooking slowly approximates the general American average (thus indicating the need for convenience and ready-made meals), Latinos enjoy shopping at carnicerías (66%) and supermarkets (75%), carrying out multiple “fill-in”, low-spend trips mostly driven by their children’s needs.

The San Jose Group is a premier multicultural marketing agency with 30 years of experience helping clients in a variety of CPG categories. For more information about the topic in this article, please email or visit us at


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