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Mexican Food Ranks as Top 10 Food of the Decade

Recently, NPD Group released its 29th annual “Eating Patterns in America” report, which revealed the top 10 foods of the decade in the U.S.

It’s no surprise to us that Mexican food is number five. More and more, Latin flavored foods are being embraced by non-Hispanics. From traditional enchiladas to Tex-Mex, NPD Group reports that the percentage of Americans consuming Mexican food at least once in two weeks has grown 8.3% from 2004-2014. As I’ve mentioned, Hispanics are not just participating in mainstream American culture, they are defining it.

They are also really driving the growth in the Mexican QSR category. Here’s more of what we learned from the latest NPD Group data:

  • Hispanics are driving the traffic and dollar growth in Mexican QSRs. One in five customers going to a Mexican restaurant chain is Hispanic. In fact, when we compared 2013 and 2014 NPD data for the category, Hispanic traffic grew by over 11%, whereas non-Hispanic traffic stayed flat. In addition, although sales grew for both demographics, Hispanic sales increased almost 3 times more than that of non- Hispanics.
  • We typically see average eater checks higher for Hispanics across the restaurant industry. At Mexican QSRs, the story is no different. Hispanics enjoy having a complete meal when ordering at a Mexican QSR, which means they’re more likely to order a drink and a combo meal. This especially holds true for Spanish-dominant Hispanics who have an average eater check that’s $1.13 more than non-Hispanics ($7.14 Span Dom vs. $6.01 NH).
  • Hispanic males seem to be the Mexican QSR category’s best customer. For the first half of 2014, 59% of Hispanic Mexican QSR visitors were male and 41% were female. Brands might want to consider this skew toward males when developing their Hispanic marketing campaigns.

It’s no wonder QSR chains are elevating their game with Hispanics. Investment on Spanish-language TV has grown by over 23% since 2013, while English-language TV decreased by 3%[1]. When you discover a real growth engine, there’s only one way to go but up.


[1] Top 40 Restaurants Spanish Language Media Spend Jan-June 2014 vs. 2013

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