The spending power for burritos and other Hispanic foods is expected to be huge.
With Hispanics spending more than $94 million on consumer packaged goods, according to Chicago-based IRI, this is one food category that is ripe with potential in the convenience channel.
The growth of authentic-inspired foods such as empanadas can be seen in certain regions.
“We have found that market is growing,” said Paul DiPalma, director of operations and controller at Flory Corp., a convenience, gas and deli operation based in New York State, which has stores in Hopewell Junction, Mahopac and Fishkill. “We have a lot of landscapers and other workers (quickly passing through) that love to speed in and grab these quick, satisfying foods.”
According to IRI, the spending power for burritos and other Hispanic foods is expected to be tremendous.
According to a recent report from Chicago-based market research firm Technomic, 62% of consumers say they purchase ethnic or ethnic-inspired foods from restaurants and other foodservice locations at least once a month.
Rob Wilson, a Chicago-based partner and managing director at L.E.K. Consulting, agreed burritos and Hispanic foods continue to be a growth area for those c-stores with the right offerings.
“Overall, they are really on trend, and this is where the puck is moving,” Wilson said.
A recent report by Mintel, which surveyed consumers by age group, revealed a higher ratio of Gen Z and Millennials were seeking ethnic cuisine compared with Gen X and baby boomers.
“There is lots of momentum in general for Mexican foods,” Wilson said. “Where we’re seeing growth and innovation is in c-stores.”
In particular, he said innovation is appearing in the grab-and-go case, on roller grills with taquitos and similar products and in the hot case.
“The hot case is where you’re seeing a lot of the growth, in particular,” said Wilson. “From a flavor standpoint, temperature is a key consideration.”
When it comes to prepared foods, quality and temperature go hand in hand. So retailers who can incorporate more hot burrito and Hispanic food offerings into their lineup will be ahead of the game.
Another trend as it pertains to burritos is ethnicity infusion.
“A burrito is historically a Mexican cuisine, but we’re starting to see other ethnic flavor profiles mixed in, such as Asian or Mediterranean, in restaurants,” said Wilson.
More so than vegetarian or vegan options, consumers in this space are seeking breakfast possibilities.
“This daypart continues to be on trend, with breakfast driving growth in prepared foods,” said Wilson. “We predict even more breakfast offerings in this segment, for 2019, with breakfast burritos at the forefront.”
He also foresees more single-serve offerings in the convenience channel, similar to what’s available in supermarkets.
“Rather than six- or eight-packs, single-serve handheld burritos are easy to eat on the run and convenient,” Wilson said.
He predicts growth of healthier prepared food items in general as well as premium items with a higher price point.
“It’s important not to just focus on price point because consumers are willing to pay for higher quality products and ingredients that cost more,” said Wilson.