Is an Increasingly Multicultural America Changing the Way We Eat?

Food industry experts say tortillas and salsa have replaced potato chips and ketchup.

By Von Diaz Oct 17, 2013

So-called "ethnic" foods are more available than they’ve ever been (remember Rhianna’s ubiquitous coconut water ads), and experts say this reflects the shifting taste buds of an increasingly multicultural U.S.  Marie Callender, once famous for frozen chicken pot pies, now makes chipotle shrimp street tacos, and Campbell’s soup has turned up the flavor on its classic tomato soup with lemongrass

Latino foods in particular are dominating the market. According to an Associated Press report, salsa beat out ketchup as the No. 1 condiment in the U.S., and tortillas are outselling chips and burger and hotdog buns. Asian foods are a close second, reflecting the largest growing immigrant communities in the U.S.  Food companies seem surprised by what they can get away with flavor-wise, but overall it seems like a positive shift in the American palate. In a recent New York Times report, which also highlighted the growing popularity of Mexican Jaritos soda, a representative from Frito Lay says eating patterns are changing as well, and people are grazing or eating throughout the day more often.

Perhaps it’s silly to try to distinguish a uniquely American cuisine since, after all, pizza is commonly considered American. But this food trend certainly highlights the expanding Latino population in the U.S., and suggests that the growing Latino consumer base has the power to shift markets.