Hispanics and Beef: Economics or Ethnics?

Discussion
Jun 16, 2006
Rick Moss

By Rick Moss


The last 20 years haven’t been kind to U.S. beef producers. During the two decades leading up to 2005, Americans’ per capita beef consumption plunged nearly 15 percent, while
annual chicken consumption jumped almost 68 percent. So when, the beef industry discovered that Hispanic shoppers are apt to buy in the neighborhood of 33 percent more beef than
non-Hispanics, they hit upon a consumer segmentation principle that didn’t seem to require much debate.


As Holly Foster, spokesperson for the California Beef Council, explained in a recent Associated Press article, “In the general community, people say, ‘I love beef, but
I already eat too much.’ In the Hispanic community, there are none of the negative perceptions that have historically kind of plagued our product.”


Currently, efforts are underway on various fronts to court Hispanic beef consumers and keep them as unrepentant carnivores as long as possible. For instance, the National Cattlemen’s
Beef Association is building a website specifically targeted to Hispanics.


Why should one assume Hispanics will gradually moderate their beef-eating ways, as has the general populace? Hugo Melgar-Quinonez, a nutrition professor at Ohio State University
who has studied eating habits among the ethnic group, says that Hispanics’ growing affluence will move them into an economic class that is more conscious of high-fat diets.


Moderator’s Comment: Is Hispanics’ love of beef an ethnic/cultural preference, or simply a social characteristic of the working class segment of their
group? Can the beef industry “hold on” to Hispanics as they acculturate?


Mass marketers are reaching out to Hispanics in creative ways, and that often plays the “class card” more so than making purely ethnic associations. I recently
watch an ad for a big “man’s-man”-type pick-up truck that showed a rugged (apparently Hispanic) young guy behind the wheel (…looked like he just got off work punching cows or
working an oil rig.) A middle-aged White fellow (sunglasses; Polo shirt) pulls up in a trendy, black luxury convertible, accompanied by a very attractive Latina. The young man
and woman exchange knowing glances while the older guy looks on helplessly (i.e. impotently?).


(Getting back to beef…) Separating ethnicity from class is tough, and potentially hazardous. If the beef industry is going to try it, to me, the opportunity
lies in supporting the culture of the food in such a way that assures the continuing popularity of beef by keeping fond culinary memories alive for Hispanics. Retailers should
emphasize cuts and perhaps simple versions of regional Hispanic recipes, so the younger generation will feel good about carrying on in the family tradition.

– Rick Moss – Moderator


Please practice The RetailWire Golden Rule when submitting your comments.

Join the Discussion!

10 Comments on "Hispanics and Beef: Economics or Ethnics?"


Sort by:   newest | oldest | most voted
Odonna Mathews
Guest
Odonna Mathews
14 years 8 months ago

Fresh products are key for Hispanics and that means fresh meats as well as fresh produce. Offering the right cuts of meat as well as the most popular fruits and vegetables and center store products will attract these consumers to more and more retailers.

Will health issues eventually be significant to this population? My feeling is yes, over time. Tradition is essential in food preparation, but over time health will likely be an area of growing awareness for many ethnic groups. Teaching alternatives in food preparation while keeping taste paramount are important as well as portion control and of course increasing physical activity. The beef industry would do well to look at incorporating health as well as tradition on their website and consumer materials.

Bernice Hurst
Guest
14 years 8 months ago
I’m with Ryan on this one. I’m agin targeting a specific group – cringingly generalised under the Hispanic banner – and hoping that their cultural background will be more influential than their economic status. It may well be a generational thing though – as far as I recall, Asians and Europeans are (or were) big meat eaters as well. Perhaps as families acculturated (another word I detest), the old dishes and recipes didn’t get passed down. And, if the kids were going all-American, they were probably not learning to cook either because of their oh so busy lives (because of course Mama and Grandma lived at a much slower pace. I’ve been doing a great deal of research recently into the way our eating habits as adults are shaped by what we eat as children. As we all know, parents teach kids by example – not by the do as I say, not as I do philosophy. The way kids are fed and raised will affect whether or not they lose their taste for meat… Read more »
Eva A. May
Guest
Eva A. May
14 years 8 months ago

Mmmmmmmmm….. Argentinean beef… the finest in the world. I agree, no worries about Hispanics cutting back on beef consumption, especially if cuts are available for consumers from different countries of origin to prepare their favorite foods. Just don’t show those medium rare food shots that are so appetizing to much of the general market — show well-done grilled meat. And learn about the different recipes that are so popular in different Latin American countries – ropa vieja, biftec a la parilla, bife de chorizo, tortas de milanesa, and many many more. Why would anyone give up that great food (in moderation, of course!)?

Al McClain
Guest
Al McClain
14 years 8 months ago

Beef is still big business for food retailers, and I wonder if there isn’t an opportunity for savvy retailers to do more promotional and merchandising events? The beef association has a great website, which offers a plethora of information on how to do it: http://www.beefretail.org

Everyone knows that there is a general opportunity for retailers with full service departments, since Wal-Mart is only doing case ready. But, there may be an extra opportunity to woo particular demographic groups like this that have a preference for beef.

Santiago Vega
Guest
Santiago Vega
14 years 8 months ago
Red-meat consumption in Hispanics isn’t limited by a specific class segment nor is it a consequence of their ethnicity. It’s about their history and their culture that, by the way, varies greatly from one Hispanic country to another. In Argentina, people (of all classes, mind you) love fat slightly-cooked steaks in a variety of different cuts. In the Dominican Republic, “ropa vieja” (red meat striped in fine fronds and boiled in natural tomato sauce) is very popular and a part of their “culture foods,” and so on for other countries… If I were a US beef producer, I wouldn’t worry about Hispanics reducing their beef consumption as they grow more affluent. I would worry that the potent US acculturation phenomena would make Hispanics of any social standing fall into the fallacy that beef is bad for your health. The inaccurate “finding” that beef is bad, isn’t linked to higher education and knowledge. It’s linked to an array of new, yet unhealthy diets looking to solve the huge nutritious problems that greatly affect the health of… Read more »
Ryan Mathews
Guest
14 years 8 months ago

Let me come down on the side of acculturation. I think eating patterns will change as the “Hispanic” [and one and all know how much I hate that word] population becomes more affluent. The decision to buy beef is based on any number of factors: familiarity; the existence of traditional recipes; availability of preferred cuts; etc. The answer for retailers is to understand who they are dealing with. Offer offal cuts to a fourth generation Mexican-American and it’s likely they won’t know what to do with them. Don’t make them available for a first generation consumer and you’re likely to lose a sale. As for the beef industry campaign — anytime you make broad-based assumptions about any group, you’ve already made a fatal mistake.

Rochelle Newman-Carrasco
Guest
Rochelle Newman-Carrasco
14 years 8 months ago
Santiago mentions Argentina. Case closed. Meat is a religion and it has nothing to do with class or economics. Yes, we all know that the US Hispanic market is dominantly Mexican (and somewhat less dominantly everyone else), but there is an agrarian and meat eating history throughout much (but not all) of Latin America and the Caribbean. Latino consumers are a prime target for prime beef and the beef industry would be foolish not to capitalize on this. Indeed there will be changes in the Latino consumers attitudes toward health and nutrition. Meat will need to reinforce messages that assert it as a valuable protein. And yes, organ meats (tripe, lips, tongue) become less important to the more acculturated palate…but visit a King Taco in Los Angeles and watch the highly bilingual, bicultural youthful Latino teens and young adults consume all sorts of these parts of the cow. Argentina just kicked Serbia’s rump in the World Cup 6-0 (that’s almost a baseball score). Could it be the influence of meat?
M. Jericho Banks PhD
Guest
M. Jericho Banks PhD
14 years 8 months ago

Decades ago Clara Peller demanded to know “Where’s The Beef?” Today, American consumers – not just Hispanics – are increasingly asking the same question, and national and state Beef Councils are replying, “Here’s The Beef!”

However, small local Hispanic meat markets have been answering the question for decades. I strongly doubt than any Beef Council had anything to do with driving business to these markets, nor any way of measuring their sales. Instead, their business was driven by word of mouth, words in mouths (Spanish), specialized cuts, and freshness. Plus, no sales tax (whoopee!)

And Eva, Argentinean beef is not the finest in the world. Most of their exports to the U.S. arrive frozen and inevitably wind up as ground beef or flavorings for other products such as dog food. Americans do not want a rangy, ropy, free-range, grass-fed, Gaucho-wrangled steak. Instead, we prefer grain-fed beef with appropriate marbling.

Mark Lilien
Guest
14 years 8 months ago

It always makes sense to make the best possible pitch to the heavy consumers of any product. If they can be reached best via ethnic media, fine. The golden rule of marketing: treat people the way they’d like to be treated. I doubt reasonable marketing executives will worry about Hispanic beef consumption 20 years from now. They’re compensated based on beef consumption today.

Benjamin Munoz
Guest
Benjamin Munoz
14 years 8 months ago

Hispanics, as a whole, should not be targeted. Hispanics covers a whole slew of nationalities with different outlooks on beef consumption. I will be the first to agree that beef consumption is high amongst Argentinians. However, on average, Mexicans view beef consumption as a ‘luxury’ item that is consumed on weekends when the extended family is present (i.e. uncles, aunts, grandparents, cousins, etc). To try to target all Hispanics would be too broad and not necessarily an effective marketing approach, since consumption varies amongst nationalities.

wpDiscuz

Take Our Instant Poll

Would the beef industry be more successful segmenting their marketing to Hispanics along ethnic or economic lines?

View Results

Loading ... Loading ...