Retail sales of multicultural produce on the rise - The Packer

Retail sales of multicultural produce on the rise

03/27/2009 12:00:00 AM
Jose Escobedo

Ogradón said not all retailers do their homework.

“They need to study Hispanic preferences for their customers and carry those products,” Ogradón said. “By studying the demographics close to their store, they (retailers) can figure out what fruits and vegetables to stock.

“If you are a Cuban, you wouldn’t care about buying jalapeños. Tropical fruits come into play when catering to a Central American clientele,” he said.
But many industry experts said they believe retailers have shown impressive advancement in marketing to minorities.

Karen Caplan, president of Los Alamitos, Calif.-based Frieda’s Inc., is convinced retailers have taken big strides by introducing specialty items to minorities.

“American retailers have made enormous progress studying the demographics and knowing their shoppers, Caplan said.

Despite these efforts, Caplan suggests some points that could attract more shoppers.

“They need to hire employees in the produce department who mirror shoppers in the store,” Caplan said. “If the store is located in a high Korean neighborhood, hire Koreans.”

In areas where there are large populations of minorities, Caplan said retailers should not be afraid of using bilingual signage.

With the growing number of minorities in the U.S., many stores have included special ethnic sections containing many specialty items. Nevertheless, there is still an impression that much more can be achieved.

“A number of chains, like HEB, have developed store divisions (and) carry a lot of Hispanic products,” Tucker said. “Certain chains are doing a great job, but a lot more could be done.”

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