by Jose deJesus, Director of Multicultural Marketing

When the National Pork Board embarked on this journey to learn as much as possible about pork consumers – Latinos included – through a comprehensive research project, I suspected the data would confirm what we have always known – mainly, that Hispanics’ affinity for pork is unparalleled.

It did, particularly for unacculturated Hispanics. However, if someone had asked me if meat claims have a significant influence on Latinos, I would have guessed not so much. I was wrong.

According to NPB proprietary research, issues such as grass-fed, certified organic, antibiotic- and hormone-free foods are the most broadly important food issues among U.S. Hispanics. For example, the data shows that:

  • 72% of Hispanics vs 68% of non-Hispanics believe antibiotic-free meat is important to them
  • 74% of Hispanics vs 68% of non-Hispanics believe hormone-free meat is important to them
  • 66%of Hispanics vs 62% of non-Hispanics believe grass-fed meat is important to them
  • 65%of Hispanics vs 55% of non-Hispanics believe certified organic meat is important to them

I was very surprised to learn about the influence of meat benefits on Latinos but that is why you do research – to get a better understanding and an objective view of what matters to consumers.

I shouldn’t have been surprised, though. Earlier this year, we conducted qualitative research in various Hispanic-heavy markets such as Los Angeles, Dallas, New York and Phoenix. In addition to interviewing consumers in focus groups, we conducted “shop-alongs” with Latinos to see what meat products made it to the shopping cart. Essentially, we went grocery shopping with consumers.

I recall various instances when consumers questioned why pork did not stand for anything – that is, why pork does not claim meat benefits as much as other proteins such as beef, chicken or seafood.

The pork industry must account for this fact moving forward. Meat claims clearly influence the decision-making process of consumers, specifically at the point of sale. Consumers are looking for permission to buy and eat meat, and the pork industry should reassess its claims strategy. It could be an easy win for the pork industry.