May 21, 2024 - World

Latin American snacks eat at U.S. market

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Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

Latin American treats like Gansitos and Canelitas cookies are slowly growing their share of the U.S. snack market — and not just in Latino communities.

The big picture: The boom in these snacks comes as the purchasing power of Latino communities has been rising, and as the U.S. Hispanic population has soared in numbers and spread across the country.

  • The products' popularity among U.S. Hispanics has slowly "influenced American food culture" and "consumers across cultural and linguistic barriers" are now embracing these brands, according to statements made last year by Luis Alfaro, brand leader of Tajín for the U.S.
  • A 2023 Mondelez report on the "State of Snacking" also notes that, as immigration makes certain flavors more readily available, people's palates change and general consumers are increasingly drawn to those "global tastes."

State of play: In the past few years, brands like Takis and Topo Chico have become staple goods sold in supermarkets and coffee shops across the U.S., even garnering "product of the year" prizes and recognition as goods that "have successfully disrupted the market," per NielsenIQ.

  • Products from the De La Rosa brand, which makes Mazapanes and Pulparindos, along with the Lucas tamarind candies, are outselling Sour Patch candies in some states, per a 2022 report in The Takeout.

What they're saying: There's been a "tremendous increase of interest" in snacks like the Gansito cake and Canelitas cookies since 2019, says Leo Pena, the marketing director for baked goods at Bimbo USA.

  • Pena says he's seen a "growing demand for diverse snack options" and that the consumer of Bimbo products "typically represents younger households compared to the national average."

Between the lines: Gen Z is partly behind the drive in these products' sales, as they are more likely to try new beverages and foods and tend to spend more on that than on clothes, beauty or electronics, per a 2023 Morning Consult poll.

  • Now brands are experimenting with more flavor combinations. For example, Takis — which rose to popularity with its chile and lime combos— launched a non-spicy Ranch flavor earlier this year, as well as collaborations with makeup brands.

Yes, but: The popularity of some of these snacks has also drawn backlash over health concerns.

  • A bill introduced in California's state assembly in March would ban snacks with dyes such as Takis and Flamin' Hot chips from public schools over concerns about potentially harmful ingredients.

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