Looking at the Future Face of America

Continued ethnic population growth is making ethnic consumers one of the most sought-after demographics in the American retail grocery market. While the following demographic facts and expectations are based on U.S. census bureau data, the variety within each ethnic population means retailers need to tailor the ethnic food products they carry as closely as possible to their regional preferences. The U.S. Census Bureau said Hispanics and Asians are the fastest growing ethnic groups in the country, with respective increases of 34.1% and 33.3% from 2000 to 2010.

Hispanic consumers comprised nearly 15% (45.5 million) of the population in 2007, and they’ll account for one in every five Americans by 2030. About $55 billion of Hispanics’ total buying power is spent on food, though that number is expected to hit $1 trillion this year.

Hispanics make more shopping trips, spend more on groceries and eat more at home than their mainstream American counterparts. Hispanics average 26 shopping trips per month and spend an average of $40 more each week on groceries as compared to non-Hispanic shoppers.

Research shows Hispanic consumers are more likely to shop at convenience stores and other non-traditional grocery outlets. Since they also prefer to cook and eat at home, the average number of meals Hispanics eat at foodservice outlets is low, making them excellent c-store targets. Moreover, this market segment increasingly leads busy lifestyles, driving the demand for authentic Hispanic convenience food.

Double-income Hispanic families are also leading much of the growth in the frozen and refrigerated grab-and-go category.

The African-American population is forecast to grow 13% between 2000 and 2010, and is expected to maintain its third-place growth between 2010 and 2050, with an average 11% increase in population each decade in that period.

African-American consumers’ purchasing power—estimated at $847 billion—is the second-highest among ethnic groups in the U.S.  This group comprised almost 13% (38.7 million) of the American population in 2007, an 8% increase over the count in 2000. Black Americans are projected to account for 14% (50.4 million) of the country’s population by 2030.

African-American cuisine incorporates a blend of cooking flavors and traditions. Bold-flavored options like Jamaican jerk chicken, fried plantains and rice-and-bean dishes are popular with this segment, which spends 27% more on authentic cooking ingredients than the average U.S. shopper and tends to be extremely brand-loyal.

Hot-food promotional tastings at retail grocery outlets have proven effective in targeting new products to this segment.

Expect to see more growth in the Asian population from 2010 to 2050, as projections put this segment’s increase at 24% each decade in that 40-year period. Currently estimated at 13.3 million consumers, or nearly 4.5% of the population, Asian-Americans are also the most affluent market segment in the U.S. Unofficial 2008 reports say Asian-Americans now enjoy the highest per-capita income of all consumer segments in the country.

While the Asian-American population includes people from all of Southeast-Asian and Asia-Pacific markets, the majority of the segment is comprised of Asia-Pacific consumers, causing the Asian-American food market to vary greatly by consumer sub-segment.


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