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    Hispanic Fusion

    The fusion of American and Hispanic cultures goes beyond the aisles of Latin cuisine items found on a retailer's shelf.

    The fusion of American and Hispanic cultures goes beyond the aisles of Latin cuisine items found on a retailer's shelf. While the stores certainly bring it all together, Wal-Mart this year will bridge the cultural divide with the launch of Pollo Campero restaurants at its stores with the highest percentage of Hispanic shoppers.

    Pollo Campero, a Latin American chicken restaurant chain — which also maintains a take-out menu for hungry people on the go — plans to open 500 units in the U.S. by 2012, assisted by its launch at Wal-Mart. While the debut locations will serve largely Hispanic markets, the appeal of the food will help drive expansion into non-Hispanic towns and cities.

    As the U.S. population changes to reflect a rising percentage of Hispanic consumers — the fastest growing minority group in the country — a strong growth in ethnic foods will grow as well.

    Hispanic cuisine, made famous by the taco, burrito and three-alarm bowls of chili, have already gone mainstream as have chipolte and jalapeno peppers. These flavorful dishes and ingredients have been transforming Americans' menus over time, reflective of the exploding Hispanic population in this country. To meet this trend head on, Wal-Mart celebrated Three Kings Day in select stores (December 26 to January 6) that cater to a largely Hispanic clientele. Among the product offerings were Rosca de Reyes (Hispanic Holiday Kings Cake) and traditional hot chocolate.

    In an April 1 "U.S. Retailing & Consumer Trends" report written by Todd Hale, senior vice president, Consumer & Shopper Insight, Nielsen Homescan & Spectra, Hale noted that the growth of various ethnic groups is impacting what maintstream America buys. Keeping in mind the need for "convenient consumer solutions" that address portability plus preparation ease and prep time, Hale cautioned readers that 2008 could be another tough year for restaurants providing opportunities for manufacturers and retailers to fill in the meal gaps. He suggested grocery retailers find additional opportunities in these tough economic times with developing their private label prepared meal programs that focus on Natural, Organic and Hispanic products.

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