HOUSTON – Hispanic consumers are more likely than non-Hispanics to purchase groceries from convenience stores, according to a recent report from The NPD Group.

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Using the channel as a substitute for or supplement to supermarkets, Hispanic consumers average nearly two more visits a month to major oil chain convenience stores and about one more visit a month to traditional convenience stores than non-Hispanic consumers.

More than two-thirds of Hispanic shoppers consider the availability of fresh food at convenience stores as somewhat or very important. They are 27% more likely to buy dairy or ice cream products and 23% more likely to buy bread at convenience stores, compared to non-Hispanic shoppers, who are 7% and 13% more likely to purchase those items in the channel, respectively. Hispanic consumers are 19% more likely to buy fresh food prepared on-site (compared to 6% of non-Hispanics), 18% more likely to buy grocery foods (compared to 5%), 13% more likely to pick up perishable groceries (compared to 7%) and 11% more likely to buy single-served pre-packaged foods (compared to 2%) from convenience stores.

“As one of the fastest growing U.S. population groups, Hispanics are an important segment for the C-store channel,” said David Portalatin, convenience store industry analyst for the NPD Group. “As this report reveals, having a good range of grocery-like items and other staples may increase Hispanic traffic, and promoting fresh foods considered to be more home-made or cooked should resonate well among Hispanics.”

According to the International Dairy-Deli-Bakery Association’s (IDDBA) “What’s in Store 2013” report, convenience store foods prepared on-site experienced 13% growth in average sales per store in 2011. Many convenience stores have installed convection ovens, high-speed ovens and fryers, and they have renovated their food service space to expand and upgrade its value-oriented, prepared food offerings.

Additionally, a number of popular consumer brands are expanding into the convenience store channel with products designed for the store’s limited facilities and time-crunched clientele.

“Food service has been a growing category in c-stores for some time and currently accounts for a higher percentage of gross profit margins than fuel or tobacco,” said John Oros, senior manager of business development for c-stores with The Hillshire Brands Co., during The Association for Convenience & Fuel Retailing’s NACS Show in Las Vegas last October. “Operators understand that selling premium products can generate higher-profit margins and enable them to earn more revenue.”