CHICAGO — More than one-third of the U.S. population is multi-cultural. By 2040, it will be closer to half.
“The country is as diverse today as it has ever been,” Terry Soto, president and chief executive officer of About Marketing Solutions Inc., told attendees at the Vienna, Va.-based U.S. Apple Association’s annual Apple Crop Outlook & Marketing Conference Aug. 22.
Even just a decade ago, Soto said, few would have envisioned a near-future in which the “majority” — non-Hispanic caucasians — would become a minority, but it’s happening.
The change has been so pronounced, she said, that most U.S. suburbanites now live in racially diverse areas. Suburbs that are between 20% and 60% non-white are not the fastest-growing slice of metropolitan America.
It’s a reality, Soto said, that not all purveyors of food and other goods have caught up with yet.
“Some retailers say, ‘Isn’t this a niche?’ and I tell them, ‘No — the traditional image of suburbia has shifted.’ There really is no such thing as a non-minority suburb today.”
What that means for marketers of fresh apples and other consumer goods is enormous growth potential, Soto said.
Take Hispanics. The Hispanic consumer market totaled about $1.2 trillion in 2012. By 2017, it will be closer to $1.7 trillion, which would be the equivalent, Soto said, of the 13th biggest economy in the world.
The news is particularly good for food retailers. Hispanics spent $63.5 billion on foods consumed at home in 2011, 25% more per capita than the average U.S. consumer.
And about $12.5 billion of that total was spent on produce, Soto said.
Hispanics do, however, tend to have different shopping habits than non-Hispanic U.S. consumers, she said. They don’t go to the grocery store as often, for example. When they do, however, they fill their carts.
Buying in bulk is big for the average U.S. Hispanic consumer, Soto said. Wal-Mart has done a good job of drawing in Hispanic shoppers, and Target is starting to catch up, she said.
Of course, the term “Hispanic” covers a wide variety of people of great differences, depending on where they or their ancestors come from and how long they’ve been the U.S.
Still, some rough generalities do apply, Soto said, and one in particular is good news for apple growers.
“Across the board, no matter what country you’re looking at, produce is No. 1.”
Hispanics also prefer fresh to processed produce at a higher rate than the general population, Soto said. And fruit is far and away the top snack choice of Hispanics.