The Latino population is expected to make up a third of the entire U.S. population by 2050. Mississippi currently has low numbers for people of Latino descent, but the numbers continue to rise. If you've been to a local grocery store, you've probably noticed Hispanic products taking up more shelf space as more Latinos are calling Mississippi home.
Yaresi Sandate of Santa Fe in Biloxi, says, “We sell their Latin products. That's what we do. We cater just to the Hispanic community.” Santa Fe in Biloxi is one of many grocery stores that have popped up in the last few years, and their consumer base is proof of the growing Hispanic subculture in Mississippi. Sandate also says, “We have about 4,000 Hispanics that come to our store, and they're an everyday customer that comes.”
People of Latino origin make up less than 3% of the entire Mississippi population, making the language barrier a problem for most, but Armando Sanchez of La Michoacana in Biloxi says it's no problem at all. Sanchez says, "Not for me, but for a lot of other people because they cannot speak English. Some people are here for a long time and still cannot speak English.” Neighboring states, Alabama and Louisiana, both have twice Mississippi's current Hispanic population, but that does not stop the culture from making its presence felt here on the Coast.
Dr. Marco Wolf of the University of Southern Mississippi Gulf Park Campus says, "Just by going to the stores, by the purchasing options available, there’s an influx, a variety of Mexican products or Hispanic products." Hispanics make up the largest minority group in the country, influencing more than $1 trillion of U.S. spending, yet own less than 10% of all business. Store owners like Alejandra Ortiz, the owner of Diaz Foods, are breaking that barrier as their customer base and opportunities here in America continue to grow. Ortiz says, “I love Mexico, but my best life is here.” Most of the Hispanics here on the Coast are in fact from Mexico.