Carnicerias – A Taste of Hispanic Culture


A look at carnicerias (meat markets) and the role they play in Hispanic-American culture.

Recent demographic studies indicate that one out every six people in the U.S. will be of Hispanic origin by the year 2012. Hispanic immigrants from Mexico, Central America, South America, and the Caribbean have settled in all parts of the United States, bringing the traditions, attitudes, and recipes of their home countries with them. Un-acculturated Hispanics take pride in their traditional meals and tend to pass traditions on from one generation to the next.

What is a Carniceria?
Carnicerias are meat markets or butcher shops.   They are known for their Mexican meat specialties already cooked and prepared in a traditional fashion. The Mexican tradition of buying cooked meat is a matter of convenience and practicality.  A wide variety of cooked meats is available, including carnitas, barbacoa, chicharrones, lengua, and adobada, among others.  Carnicerias offer customers the convenience of choosing their favorite meats without having to going through the long and arduous task of preparing them at home. 

Key Insights
– Latinos are the main source of growth for the grocery industry. A study by the Food Marketing Institute found that Hispanics make an average of 26 grocery trips per month, three times more than the average shopper.
– Un-acculturated Hispanics visit bodegas, carnicerias, and panaderias more frequently than acculturated Hispanics. (Source: Food Marketing Institute, El Mercado 2005)
– Hispanics patronize multiple store categories every month to satisfy their shopping needs.
• 94% shop at supermarkets at least once per month
• 68% shop at discount superstores
• 56% shop at carnicerías (meat markets)
• 50% visit bodegas (corner stores) and panaderías (bakeries)
– 40% of Hispanics prefer shopping on Saturday to any other day of the week. 
(Source: Food Marketing Institute, El Mercado 2005)

Hispanics Love Beef!
The majority of Latinos (86%) consumes beef 4 to 5 times per week, twice the amount of an average consumer. 

Important motivations for the Hispanic consumer when selecting a store to buy meat.

First Tier in Importance Second Tier in Importance Third Tier in Importance
– Better prices
– Proximity to home
– Quality of meat
– Meat is fresher
– Strong selection of cuts/types of meat that Hispanics prefer
– Presence of butcher
– Good service, meaning
– “I am treated well”
– Overall cleanliness of the store
– Good selection of beef
cuts such as heart, tongue, tripe and oxtail
– Bilingual staff
– Other groceries available
– Other Hispanic products in the store
– Recommendation by friend/relative
– Fast check-out

(Source: Beef Checkoff Study: Quantitative Hispanic Retail Shopper Insights, 2007)

Main Reasons for Shopping at a Carniceria
– 20%: The meat is fresher
– 20%: Better price for the meat
– 17%: Higher quality meat
– 12%: Faster way to shop, no lines

(Source: Beef Checkoff Study: Quantitative Hispanic Retail Shopper Insights, 2007)

What’s Important to the Hispanic Consumer at a Carniceria?
– Bilingual labeling for the different type of meats and cuts
– Pre-marinated products
– Availability of complementary goods such as guacamole, hot sauce, tortillas, jalapenos, rice, beans, and traditional desserts

Other Goods Sold at Carnicerias
– Authentic Mexican seasonings, including hot chiles, red annatto paste, and canela
– Homemade guacamole, salsa, and tortillas 
– Mexican desserts such as churros, flan, tres leches, bionicos (fruit cocktails), and jericaya
– Fruit
– Pan dulce (sweet bread)
– Veggies
– Traditional Mexican drinks such as horchata (sweet rice water), tamarindo, etc.

Content compiled by Carmen Murcia.  

To come next week … Hispanics and the recession.