As the demographics of the American population shift, so do tastes, preferences and purchase patterns. And if we used cheese to demonstrate the underlying population shifts in the U.S.A, our melting pot would be filled with delicious, bubbling Queso Fundido.
Diversity and multi-culturalism are part of the changing face of America, no matter how you slice it. By 2060 the Hispanic population in the United States will more than double (absolute numbers) while at the same time, the non-Hispanic white population will rise by only 2% (Source: US Census Bureau).
Naturally, cheese trends are following suit. Hispanic cheeses, such as Queso Blanco, Queso Quesadilla and Cotija, are showing strong volume and dollar growth, and the growth of Hispanic cheese varieties is significantly outpacing overall cheese category growth based on volume at retail:
At foodservice, ethnic inspired food items continue to be a key trend driver among all consumers. From breakfast burritos and chorizo scrambled eggs to authentic tacos at every daypart, the interest in south-of-the-border flavors shows no sign of waning. Millennials are taking their palate for adventurous eating to the streets in search of authentic Latin American flavors and dishes, such as Empanadas, Pupusas, Tortas and Elote.
Food heritage and mealtime traditions among the Hispanic population remain strong. 66% of Hispanic consumers surveyed enjoy eating traditional Hispanic foods and 33% purchase more Hispanic foods than American foods (Source: Packaged Facts based on data from Experian Marketing Services, Winter 2015 Simmons NHCS Study). And spending power among Hispanics does not show signs of diminishing. According to Technomic’s 2017 Hispanic Foodservice Consumer Trend Report, 62% of Latinos expect their personal financial situation to improve in the next year, and 41% of Latinos and 54% of Spanish-dominant Latinos say that they are now more likely to visit restaurants that publicly support Latinos compared to in 2015.
When it comes to Hispanic cheeses, authenticity counts…but be forewarned, Latin American and Caribbean regions may have varying definitions for the characteristics of their culture’s staple cheese varieties, such as Queso Blanco and Queso Fresco, and there is no established standard of identity for these cheeses. Although many of these cheeses are traditionally crafted with raw milk in their respective countries, it is safest to source products made domestically in the USA with pasteurized milk from an established, reliable manufacturer.
Hispanic-style cheeses can be classified into two general categories: fresh and aged. The California Milk Advisory Board has a great overview of Hispanic cheeses and their culinary applications, which can be accessed here. Fresh cheeses, in general, bear a greater risk for contamination due to their high moisture content, and proper storage temperatures are key. Bone up on proper cheese storage temperatures for product safety by reviewing this article from The Center for Dairy Research at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
Are you ready to grow your specialty cheese category or enhance your menu offerings with authentic Hispanic cheeses? InterSource West now carries an extensive selection of products from La Chona and FUD. Contact us today for a sample!