Hispanic consumers have very specific ideas when it comes to what constitutes healthy foods. In fact, Hispanic consumers put a heavy emphasis on how they perceive themselves when it comes to being healthy, according to Mintel. However, the majority of Hispanics perceive themselves as being healthy, with a third claiming themselves to be very healthy.

Then again, Mintel pointed out, the more acculturated Hispanics become, the lower the likelihood that they will self-identify as healthy. Part of the reason is that such individuals place more value on convenience than health. Hispanic consumers identify healthy foods as those that are prepared from scratch, and that has nothing to do with calorie counts. In other words, the fresher, the better.

“The Hispanic community is used to fruits,” said Luis Lacal, president, Bakery Corp, pointing out fruits ranging from guava to pineapple to bananas.

Mario Somoza, president and CEO, Pan Pepin, added, “In the Caribbean, plantains are very popular in all our food.”

Mintel also pointed out that non-acculturated and bicultural Hispanics are more likely to eat desserts; they just do it in a cautious way. The Mintel report Hispanic Consumers and Dining Out indicated that this group will find more interest in lower-calorie and mini-sized dessert offerings.

Using these types of fruits in products such as desserts, muffins and Danish, especially when the ingredients are fresh, can confer the halo of health as a selling point.

Developing and marketing Hispanic products — whether inside or outside the core demographic group — is a much more complex notion than one might anticipate, right down to identifyingwho the Hispanic consumers are. Whether it’s traditional Hispanic products, inspired twists on Latino mainstays or mashing up flavor fusions from a variety of Hispanic cultures, bakers should get to know core demographic groups. And at the rate it’s growing, bakeries and snack food manufacturers need only look in their own backyards.