HISPANIC SHOPPERS aren't the only ones looking for authentic tamales, plantains and masa. In this age of foodies, some mainstream consumers are forgoing taco kits in favor of genuine dishes and ingredients.
That's good news for independent Hispanic markets, and for mainstream retailers that operate Hispanic banner stores.
“For a lot of retailers, it may be in their best interest to promote some of these traditional foods to non-Latino people who are discovering Cuban cooking or Spanish cooking,” said Georgia Orcutt, program manager with Oldways Preservation Trust, a nonprofit organization that promotes nutrition education.
This can be a tricky balance to strike, for although Hispanic and mainstream shoppers crave similar foods, the marketing approach that appeals to one group doesn't always translate to the other. Barbara Ruhs, dietitian with Bashas', said that her company's Food City banner is actively trying to attract non-Hispanics as well as Hispanics to the stores. She admits there's a bit of a culture clash to overcome.
“It is intimidating because you are walking into a market filled with pinatas, loud music and huge displays,” said Ruhs. Nevertheless, people are realizing that there is not just good food, but good deals to be had as well.
“Everything is really cheap, and you can find so many authentic ingredients and dishes,” she said.