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Nourishing Equity: Meeting Black Consumers’ Needs in Food

Jun 1, 2022
Nourishing equity: Meeting Black consumers’ needs in food

From McKinsey & Co. (an H2HC member) and the McKinsey Institute for Black Economic Mobility: Retailers and restaurants have an opportunity to give Black consumers equitable access to the foods they want.

Food is a potent carrier of culture, community, and identity for every group. For Black Americans, food binds families and communities as the centerpiece of gatherings such as Sunday dinners, crayfish boils, and graduation dinners.

While the function of food is common across groups, equitable access is not. Inequitable food access holds back human development and creates disparate health outcomes for Black Americans. Beyond considerations of equity, the strategic stakes for food retailers and restaurants are also significant. Black consumers’ spending on food is expected to grow by 5 percent per year, and our analysis shows that $340 billion in cumulative spending (in nominal dollars) will be at stake from 2022 to 2030.

Our research on Black consumers’ experiences with food, conducted in 2021, revealed five preferences. Black consumers want offerings that are culturally relevant and convenient, facilitate healthy habits, demonstrate good value for the price, and allow them to experience new foods.

Companies can better meet these preferences and challenges by expanding their offerings with Black consumers in mind, frequently testing new concepts and offerings, investing in e-commerce, optimizing their physical presence in Black communities, upgrading in-store experiences, and engaging with customers to build loyalty. These strategies are specific to grocery retailers and restaurants and should be implemented in parallel with overall efforts to build diverse organizations that facilitate those equity goals. The health of communities is at stake.

by Ayebea Darko, Sheldon Lyn, Sara Prince, and Shelley Stewart III