Tortilla chips and salsa in a restaurant

Status of the Mexican Food Industry in the U.S.

Take a look at your menu. Chances are there is some Mexican inspired dish on there.

It might be nowhere near being deemed “authentic” or the connection might be loose, but you’re missing out on a huge money maker if you keep tacos from your guests Tuesday night.

With 1 out of every 10 restaurants selling Mexican food, your sizzling fajitas are in good company. But what’s the big deal with burrito bowls, tacos, and other mainstream Americanized Mexican food? You see it everywhere from Chili’s to Chipotle.

Your guests want to be able to mix and match their food habits, with healthy and well…a little decedent. They want something a little cheesy, but still loaded with good for you components, and Mexican food is the perfect vessel. It can be made as healthy or unhealthy as the guest wants- from a taco salad (no cheese please) to a loaded californian burrito (extra fries, always).

Best part? This trend doesn’t come at a cost to you with 88% of those asked are willing to pay more for healthier food. So yes, they know guac is extra, don’t be condescending.

Le Méridien New Orleans
Fish tacos from Le Méridien New Orleans

 

Don’t believe the taco trend is real?

Last year alone, Americans ate over 4.5 billion tacos. That’s a lot of tacos. But where are all these tacos coming from? Pretty unexpected places it turns out. You may want to assume your guests respect the authenticity of the local Mexican joint in town and appreciate the hard work and effort it takes to make a perfect taco, but unfortunately that’s not always the case.

It turns out Taco Bell isn’t the only place to grab a fast food taco either, Americans actually eat 554 million Jack in the Box tacos in a year. That means roughly 12% of all tacos consumed in a year come from Jack in the Box, of all places.

How does a restaurant that specializes in real tacos take back this industry from giants like Jack in the Box and Taco Bell though? It’s going to be tricky considering 1 in 4 Americans eat fast food once a week.

While some of those who eat fast food could be doing it for purely the love of it, 20% of all American meals are eaten in the car, which might have something to do with it. The ease of cruising up to a drive through and ordering something easy to hold in one hand can overpower the want for something that tastes better.

If you’re thinking you can wait out the older generation’s eating habits and capitalize on the Millennials and their healthier habits deterring them from fast food- you might be waiting a while. Even though it’s proven that the Millennial  generation is more likely to pick something healthy over unhealthy, it doesn’t account for the need for the easy meal- 57% of Americans 18 to 29 years old eat fast food once a week.That’s more than twice as much as the average person.

The non fast food restaurants should continue to be wary of this $570 billion industry and their ability to make any food into fast food. So yes, guac is extra, but at what real cost?

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Megan is always adventuring. Whether it is simply wandering around Newport, RI or venturing off across the world, she is constantly looking for a new travel destination. While she may not be able to tell you the exact cities she has visited, you can expect a play by play of everything she ate.