To contact us:

Alabama Cooperative Extension System
Urban Affairs & New
Nontraditional Programs
Dr. Julio E. Correa,
Extension Animal Scientist
Alabama A&M University
P.O. Box 967
Normal, AL 35762

Phone: 256-372-4173
Fax: 256-372-5840

Documents published by the Alabama Cooperative Extension System (ACES) are designated as such and are produced in cooperation with a subject matter specialist. Non-ACES documents are available via links to other sites. Comments regarding any documents not produced locally should be directed to their respective authors.


Alabama Ethnic Food Security Network


Census 2010 confirmed expected population changes across the United States (US). One of the most significant changes was the shift in the country's ethnic population composition. For example, Census 2010 indicated to marketers that the US Hispanic population is no longer merely a niche. The Hispanic population grew by 43% from 35.3 million in 2000 to 50.5 million in 2010. Hispanics account for 56% of all growth in the US and make up 16.3% of the total US population (308.7 million). Today, 1 in 6 Americans is Hispanic.

Like many Southeastern states, Alabama's Hispanic population grew tremendously in the past decade. According to census survey data compiled by the Pew Research Center (March 2011), Alabama's Hispanic population grew by 145% between 2000 and 2010, making it the nation's second-largest percentage growth since 2000. Approximately 186,000 Hispanics now live in Alabama, up from 76,000 in 2000. Across a broad area of the state, sizeable Hispanic populations have emerged suddenly in communities where a Hispanic presence was sparse just a decade or two earlier. Census 2010 found that Tallapoosa County had the state's greatest increase in Hispanic population (331%) followed by Shelby County, which saw its Hispanic population grow 297% between 2000 and 2010. Despite the explosive Hispanic population growth in these two counties, Jefferson and Madison counties have the highest Hispanic population counts at 25,448 and 15,404, respectively.

Driven by immigration and births, this dynamic population change represents new opportunities for food producers and marketers. Because consumer demand for ethnic foods is rising, farmers in Alabama have tremendous opportunities to diversify, expand, and supply the growing demand for a number of multicultural foods. In order to remain competitive in today's market, Alabama farmers and marketers must keep pace with increasingly market segment needs. Meats such as goat and lamb are not only popular among Hispanics, but also among Caribbean Islanders and Middle Easterners. Vegetables such as peppers and eggplants are very popular among Hispanics as well as Asians, whose population also increased by 71%. Asians now comprise 1.1% (53,595) of Alabama's total population. Moreover, strong desires for new multicultural flavors and foods are growing among the general population.

Alabama farmers, particularly small-scale and limited-resource farmers that produce and market safe multicultural meats and vegetables, can increase accessibility to their products by teaming up with other businesses that offer complementary goods such as grass-fed chicken and beef and organically grown vegetables. This strategy is vital considering that Hispanics, Asians and African Americans have consistent high-purchase patterns of organic foods (Hartman Group, 2006). In fact, African Americans, who increased to 1,251,311 residents or 26.2% of Alabama's total population, have become the ethnic group that spends the most on organic produce (Garmon, Huang, & Lin, 2007).


Hartman Group. (2002). Hartman organic research review: A compilation of national organic research conducted by the Hartman Group. Bellevue, WA.

Pew Research Center. (2011). Census 2010: 50 Million Latinos. Hispanics account for more than half of the nation's growth in the past decade. Retrieved March 21, 2011.

Stevens-Garmon, J., Huang, C. L., and B. H. Lin. (2007). Organic demand: A profile of consumers in the fresh produce market. In: Choices: The Magazine of Food, Farm, and Resource Issues. 2nd Quarter 22 (2).

US Census Bureau. (2011). The official 2010 census population totals and demographic characteristics. US Census Bureau. Suitland, MD.