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    Hispanics Influencing U.S. Lunch Trends

    This burgeoning demographic consumes their largest meal midday.

    CHICAGO -- Hispanics consume their largest meal of the day at lunch, a cultural tradition that has carried over to U.S. Hispanics. As a result, this large population group is influencing overall growth in the food categories they typically consume at lunch, according to study by theThe NPD Group.

    The Chicago-based market research firm's NET Hispanic Study, a yearlong study exploring the national eating trends of U.S. Hispanics, found that 73 percent of U.S. Latinos' lunch meals are prepared and consumed in-home compared to 62 percent of non-Hispanics.

    In addition, Spanish-language dominant U.S. Hispanics represent just 29 percent of total lunch traffic at restaurants, compared to 34 percent for non-Hispanics. Total Hispanics represent 32 percent of foodservice lunch visits, according to NPD's CREST Hispanic panel, which continually tracks how U.S. Hispanics, by level of acculturation, use restaurants.

    With lunch being the largest meal of the day for U.S. Hispanics, there is a greater diversity of foods prepared by Hispanics vs. non-Hispanics. For example, while sandwiches are a top item for Hispanics, they are only present at 18 percent of afternoon meals (38 percent for non-Hispanics), according to NPD.

    Sandwiches are followed very closely by soup and rice as top dishes during the afternoon meal -- 13 percent of Hispanics' afternoon meals include rice, compared to just 1 percent for non-Hispanics. There is also evidence that many of these rice dishes are either homemade or partly homemade.

    Rice is an example of U.S. Hispanics' rising influence on overall consumption trends in the nation. Rice is included in about 2 percent of in-home meals across the U.S. population. However, NET Hispanic shows rice consumption rises to 8 percent when looking specifically at the U.S. Hispanic population.

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