Diane Pineda, Catalina Echeverry and Marika Dugan recently attended The World of the Latino Cuisine 2017 (El Mundo de la Cocina Latina 2017) at the Meadowlands Exposition Center.
This is an important show in the metropolitan area, as the Latino food and beverage market is reaching $18 billion and growing at a pace of 4% annually. Did you know, for example1:
- Salsa is the number one selling condiment in the world, and outsells ketchup 2 to 1
- Tortillas outsell both hotdog and hamburger buns combined
- Tortilla chips outsell potato chips
- Tacos and burritos are no longer considered ethnic, and have become as main stream as pizza and spaghetti to the general American public
“It was inspiring to meet the CEOs and faces behind the different specialty food exhibitors,” commented Dugan. She noted some of the trends they saw at the show:
Natural ingredients were the stars among smaller producers. “Many of the vendors were excited to let us know that their products did not contain any artificial flavoring, only natural sugars like agave and raw sugar cane,” Dugan said. “Many smaller companies were trying to establish their uniqueness by listing all of their natural ingredients, and bringing you to the place of production (whether it be in Peru, Puerto Rico or Pennsylvania).”
Smaller producers are targeting Whole Foods. Most of the manufacturers with organic Hispanic ingredients who are currently in bodegas and other Hispanic-owned markets, would like to sell to Whole Foods and other organic markets, but believe they will need to spend a bit more on branding, new logos, or packaging updates for this to happen.
West Coast companies want to come east. Several exhibitors who are well known on the West Coast are looking to expand to the East Coast. Some of the more popular name brands are doing a test run in larger superstores like Walmart to see if they will be successful in bringing the product to the tristate area.
Company owners were proud of their shared cultural backgrounds. The exhibitors who had the most foot traffic were very passionate of their ethnicities that are exemplified in the food and drinks they sell. Those exhibitors were very eager to refer other businesses at nearby tables with the same cultural backgrounds.
“Importers from the Caribbean and many Latin American countries participated in the show, making it a tasty and fun-filled experience for all,” said Dugan.
- Changing Demographics Creates Major Changes in Food Purchases, Food Facts 2013 IRI report, as reported on the World of Latino Cuisine website.