Retailers Traveling a Magic Road With Latinos

A Publix Sabor store will mark the Miami launch of a new supermarket guide designed to encourage Latinos to eat better. The Camino Mgico con Sabor event will take place on Oct. 11 in honor of Camino M a new bilingual booklet that contains relevant tools to help Hispanic shoppers make more balanced choices. The event will include handouts of Camino M pamphlets; a message from Publix,

HIALEAH, Fla. — A Publix Sabor store here will mark the Miami launch of a new supermarket guide designed to encourage Latinos to eat better.

The Camino Mágico con Sabor event will take place on Oct. 11 in honor of “Camino Mágico,” a new bilingual booklet that contains relevant tools to help Hispanic shoppers make more balanced choices.

The event will include handouts of “Camino Mágico” pamphlets; a message from Publix, the Latino Nutrition Coalition and a nutritionist; and vendor sampling throughout the store.

Publix plans to distribute the brochure at nearly 200 locations.

The publication is a perfect fit with Publix because of its emphasis on the health and wellness of its customers and their families, according to Publix spokeswoman Maria Brous. “Camino Mágico is an extension of our commitment to a healthier community,” she told SN.

Introduced in May, “Camino Mágico” (“Magic Road”) is a pocket-size booklet that includes a Latin American Diet Pyramid, meal solutions and tips on how to read food labels. The Boston-based nutrition group Oldways and its subsidiary Latino Nutrition Coalition developed it.

Along with Miami, the publication is being distributed in Chicago, Houston, New York, Los Angeles and Boston. About 1 million copies will be published by the end of the year.

Publix is promoting the Oct. 11 event in its weekly insert and displaying posters in select Miami-Dade County stores. It's also placing ads in several Hispanic publications, including Diario de las Americas.

Along with Publix, the Camino Mágico program has the support of about 10 other retailers, including Minyard, as well as Supervalu's Jewel-Osco, Albertsons and Shaw's chains.

Jewel-Osco started distributing the guide in Chicago over the summer as part of its “Cocinando con Sabor” events, designed to appeal to Hispanic consumers at their local stores. The events attracted hundreds of families by providing tools to help people get started with eating more balanced meals.

“Jewel-Osco is proud to help provide relevant information on how to eat healthier while enjoying all the traditional favorite foods we have all grown up on,” Kim Kirchherr, a Jewel-Osco dietitian, said in a statement. “Camino Mágico includes a variety of information and tips for people who want to make better choices and more balanced meals for their families.”

At the Cocinando con Sabor events, Jewel-Osco brought some of the Camino Mágico recipe suggestions to life. For instance, it distributed “Camino Mágico Snacks,” including “butterflies,” a combination of celery, raisins and pretzels.

Fiesta Mart, Houston, was one of the first stores to carry “Camino Mágico” in May. The retailer distributed the booklet in about 25 stores, and made it the centerpiece of its Cinco de Mayo celebration. Manufacturers that sponsor the guide continue to conduct product demonstrations at Fiesta stores.

What makes the guide so unique is that it provides easy ways for Hispanics to lead healthier lives, said Fiesta Mart's advertising manager, Keith Jacobsen. “The beautiful thing about this is it promotes some of the traditional foods and dishes,” he said. “It is not asking for big changes, just a return to your roots.”

Jacobsen would like to see more retailers get involved and start distributing and promoting the publication.

“A program like this needs legs,” he said. “We as retailers need to be a part of a healthier tomorrow.”

The Latino Nutrition Coalition aimed the brochures at supermarkets because that's where most purchase decisions are made, said Liz Mintz, LNC manager.

“It's a great way to educate a population that for the most part doesn't have materials that are culturally relevant,” she said.

Latinos need more health guidance because they have the most rapid weight increase of any group in the U.S., and double the likelihood of contracting diabetes once overweight. About 50% of Hispanics born after 2000 will develop diabetes at some point in their lives, according to Mintz.

“The Latino community has less knowledge about calories and other nutritional aspects of their foods,” she said.

Many double-income Hispanic families don't have time to prepare healthy meals. One way the guide helps them in this area is by encouraging them to plan ahead, said Mintz.

Shaw's got involved because it serves a diverse base of customers, a spokeswoman said. By partnering with the LNC, it can help support a program specifically geared toward Hispanics.

It will distribute an initial 50,000 brochures in Boston; Providence, R.I.; and Hartford, Conn., according to the spokeswoman.