Every 30 seconds, a Hispanic turns 18 years old in the U.S., amplifying the influence of the country's fastest-growing ethnic minority.

A new study called "The Multi-Cultural Latino Consumer" finds that though Latinos are far from homogenous, diverse segments overall stay true to significant commonalities when it comes to food, in particular their preference for fresh, local, and whole ingredients, as well as traditional dishes that help preserve their connection to their family and country of origin.

The study was jointly developed and conducted by consumer research firm The Hartman Group and MSLGROUP.

The Multi-Cultural Latino Consumer study looked closely at how the majority of Latinos, driven by the desire to create an appetizing social experience around each meal, will:

  • Choose fresh foods over packaged food (82 percent)

  • Buy more local products today than a year ago (51 percent)

  • Eat meals influenced by country of origin (63 percent)

"Food brands looking to make a Latino family's shopping cart need to recognize and respect what motivates the purchase—the family experience," says Vickie Allande-Fite, MSLGROUP multicultural practice leader. "Working with Hartman, we are confirming and developing insights to provide clients with strategic, relevant ways to capture awareness and elevate engagement with U.S. Hispanics."

Family-centric study results illustrate that Latinos identify food as an important element of daily life, leveraging meals as a central enabler of together-time, one-third (32 percent) emphasizing the value of sitting around the table to share a meal compared to one-fifth (22 percent) of non-Latinos.

"Cooking is a labor of love and the study affirmed how gatherings are a treasured everyday opportunity to savor authentic flavors and enjoy recipes passed down for generations," says Laurie Demeritt, CEO at The Hartman Group. "To market food focused on nutritional strengths fails to capitalize on its greater role as being a social conduit. Meal time helps keeps Latinos stay connected to one another, as well as to their culture and traditions."

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