CHICAGO — Hispanic consumers ages 22 to 35 are driving the ethnic group’s overall eating attitudes and behaviors with Hispanic dishes being included in 7% of all meals consumed by this group, according to the NPD Group.

Hispanic dishes are only included in 2% of non-Hispanic meals consumed by non-Hispanics in the same age group.

“U.S. Hispanics are youthful and therefore represent future opportunities for food and beverage marketers, especially now that their population growth is coming more from births than immigration,” said Darren Seifer, analyst with the NPD Group. “Understanding which product categories appeal to each Hispanic consumer group will be critical to effectively connecting with these consumers and understanding the situations and motivations that drive category consumption will enable food companies to influence future sales to these groups.”

Hispanics ages 22 to 35 consume on average more bread and rice than their non-Hispanic peers, but non-Hispanics consume more sandwiches and ready-to-eat cereal than Hispanics. In addition, stove-top preparation is much more common with Hispanic meals compared with non-Hispanic meals due to the kinds of foods being prepared, and U.S. Hispanics are much less likely to microwave. Heartier items are often found during lunch, and items such as fruit are treated more as a snack than a main meal item.