Wholesalers and retailers are capitalizing on the booming Hispanic population in Texas.
United Supermarkets LLC, for example, has its Amigos retail store format that caters to Hispanics, while many wholesalers and distributors handle produce items, such as a wide variety of chili peppers, favored by the ethnic group.
Hispanics account for about 10.6 million of the state’s overall 26.4 million residents, according to 2012 figures from the Texas Department of Health Services.
By 2015, Hispanics are expected to represent 11.8 million of the state’s 28 million residents. Anglos will represent about 11.5 million, according to department figures.
To serve that growing population, Lubbock, Texas-based United Supermarkets has Amigos retail stores in several Texas cities — Amarillo, Lubbock and Plainview, said Eddie Owens, director of communications and public relations.
“It’s a very different product selection in those (Amigos) stores than in Market Street or United,” Owens said of the company’s other two retail brands.
For example, Amigos boasts peppers, prickly pear cactus fruit and cactus leaves.
The company has just broken ground on a store in Herford in the Texas Panhandle that will be slightly different because it will cater to Anglo and Hispanic shoppers, he said.
“It’s the only store for our company in Herford, and it will certainly have a different product mix than the other three Amigos,” Owens said.
John Hayes, president of Houston-based Integrity Distribution Services, said his company also has seen growth from wholesalers catering to Hispanic markets.
“That’s a big part of our business,” he said.
Among the popular produce items among that ethnic market are melons, white potatoes, cucumbers, green beans, several other fruit and vegetables and, particularly, fresh sweet corn.
Hayes said he’s also seen more demand for produce items preferred by Middle Eastern and Indian markets.
Houston-based retailer Fiesta Mart Inc. continues to grow, and now has more than 50 stores.
Originally, it started by catering exclusively to Hispanic customers, according to the company website. However, it has since diversified to carry items for other ethnic groups, such as Asians.
The large, brightly lit produce departments carry all of the items typically found in a well-stocked produce section. It also has items that Hispanic customers seek, such as fresh agave leaves, guavas, a wide selection of fresh chilis and peeled and bags of chopped, ready-to-use nopales.
In July, it opened its first Fiesta Market Place concept store in Sugar Land, Texas, a Houston suburb.
In addition to typical store departments, the new concept features a wine cellar and cheese shop, a sandwich bar, a salad station, a burrito bar, a pizza station and a kitchen where shoppers can order made-to-order food to eat in or take home.