PEMBROKE PINES, Fla. -- A new Sedano's here is providing Hispanic specialty groceries to a growing number of middle-class Latinos moving north from Miami.
The 36,000-square-foot unit on Pines Boulevard, just west of Palm Avenue, occupies a site vacated by Food Lion. It is a full-service supermarket with a full array of mainstream groceries, but with an accent on foods Hispanics prefer. Sedano's also stocks specialty Hispanic items, domestic and imported.
Sedano's features its produce at the front of the store and to the right, as do most supermarkets, but frozen food is also on the right side of the store, near the produce. Selections are fairly standard, but there are some noticeable variations: larger-size offerings in vegetables -- for example, 5-pound bags of lima beans -- and more ethnic specialties.
Four doors are devoted to Goya frozen entrees, sauces, croquettes, pound cake, fruit pulp and other items. Another five doors have Catalina and Le Fe brand croquettes, La Fe frozen vegetables (platanos, maduros, yucca) and El Sembrador fruit pulp. Also in the freezer case are frozen dough to make empanadas -- half-moon shaped pastries, usually stuffed with spiced meat -- large sizes of stuffed cassava and potato balls, and family sizes of Stouffer's dinners and entrees.
Frozen endcaps are used to merchandise specials. During SN's visit in late March, soon after the store had opened, bacon-flavored "cornwiches" were featured in a three-door endcap; 12-ounce packages of bacon-flavored and cheddar cornwiches were on sale for $2.99.
Also on sale was Borden ice cream, 64 ounces for $4.69. Signs were in Spanish on the endcap: "Compre Uno Llevese Uno Gratis" -- buy one, get one free.
Some dry beans, rice, cornmeal and spices are cross merchandised in the produce aisle. Most products are labeled in both English and Spanish. The produce department has many ethnic specialties, such as Hispanic root vegetables like malanga amarilla, yucca and chayote.
Several store associates SN approached spoke only Spanish, although the store manager was fluent in Spanish and English. He said his clientele was about 60% Hispanic and 40% non-Hispanic, although SN observed most shoppers in the store during our visit were Hispanic. The manager said shoppers had varied backgrounds; many were of Cuban descent, others had South American, Puerto Rican or Caribbean heritages.
According to Ray Valdes, business manager for Acosta-PMI in Fort Lauderdale, which calls on major chains in South Florida as well as independents and mom-and-pop operations, younger, well-to-do Hispanic families are moving north.
"West [Pembroke] Pines is still close enough to the core family in the Miami area -- parents, grandparents. The younger, more acculturated families are moving to newer developments," Valdes said.
He explained that new immigrants, as well as older Hispanics, preferred to stay in Dade County (greater metropolitan Miami) where they can speak Spanish freely and don't face a language barrier.
The new Sedano's here, the second in Broward County, is probably one of the largest units in the 25-store chain, and it is attracting both Hispanic and non-Hispanic shoppers, according to Chuck Bradley, general manager at Acosta.
"Sedano's has the mainline items and a broad selection of Hispanic foods," he said. "I don't think the [mainstream] chains do as good a job as they probably should [in Broward County, which includes Fort Lauderdale, Hollywood and Pembroke Pines]. If you go into Dade County, their selection is as good as the independents'. But it's relatively new to have a Hispanic community in Broward County, and I don't think the mainstream supermarkets have ramped up completely."
In the grocery aisles, SN found a similar range of choices in mainstream and specialty products. In the aisle labeled "Mayo and Sauces," are olives, marinades, seasonings, sauces, vinegars, mayonnaise and dressings, and various condiments. The large olive section includes Hispanic brands Goya, La Cena, Bohio, Iberia and Molinera. Some of these products are from Spain; others have been packed in Miami.
Sauces and seasonings are mostly Hispanic brands and among them were naranja agria (bitter orange) and Hispanic barbecue sauce. Mainstream brands dominate mustards, steak sauces, marinades, catsup, cocktail sauces and salad dressings. In vinegars, there are mainstream and specialty items like Elite distilled vinegar from Puerto Rico.
There is a small natural foods section in this aisle, with cereal, pasta, canned beans, salsa, crackers, soy and rice milk, and other products.
The rest of Center Store follows the same theme, offering specialty and mainstream choices side by side. The cookie and crackers sections, for example, have many specialty items by Hispanic-American producers Goya, Vitarroz and La Cena, along with imported items from Spain, Brazil and elsewhere.
The wine section stocks American brands as well as some imported products from Chili, Spain and France.
Sections for rice and beans are larger than usual and were stocked mostly with Hispanic brands like Goya, Iberia, Conchita, El Sembrador, Bohio, La Cena, Diana and Kirby (beans) and Iberia, Canilla and Vitarroz (rice).
A large section is devoted to canned and bottled shelf-stable juices and nectars, mainstream and specialty.
The grocery aisles at Sedano's are about 66 feet long. The end aisle in grocery is devoted to large sizes, in categories like instant potatoes and mixed vegetables, black beans, corn oil, spices, mayonnaise and barbecue sauces. The unit also has a substantial baby section and devotes 32 feet to diapers.
Despite the large variety of specialty items available, this supermarket, which is on the small side, still manages to carry a full array of mainstream products, including tuna fish, macaroni and cheese dinners, Mexican-American style salsas and American Chinese food. There is even a small kosher section and a section devoted solely to Jamaican grocery products, no doubt to satisfy the growing Caribbean population.
When SN asked Acosta's brokers if they thought Sedano's, based in Miami, would emerge as a larger presence in Broward County, Valdes acknowledged the chain had done very well with the first unit, on Sheridan Street, and that the second unit was "a huge step."
Chuck Bradley added, "You will see continued expansion of Hispanic supermarkets in south Broward, but over time, it will become chain-dominated. The assimilated Latinos like shopping at a big Publix store." Bradley also pointed out that, historically, Winn-Dixie had done the best job of catering to Hispanics in South Florida.
SN also visited some mainstream supermarkets in western Pembroke Pines, including Winn-Dixie, Albertson's and Publix.
A nearby Albertson's unit, on Pines Boulevard and University Drive, which looked to be almost double the size of Sedano's, was demoing tortilla rollups and baked beans, and easy rice and bean wrap-ups.
The store has an aisle marker that indicates Hispanic and Asian foods, and devotes about 28 feet to Hispanic groceries, including soda crackers, rice, canned fish, olives, seasonings, marinades, bouillon, olive oil and spices. Jamaican/Caribbean items can also be found in this aisle.
The Publix supermarket, also a large unit, at Pines Boulevard and Flamingo Road, has a much wider selection of Hispanic specialty items. In the frozens department are two doors of Hispanic items, including entrees, croquettes, vegetables and fruit pulp.
In the grocery aisles, specialty items are given space in a number of categories, alongside their mainstream counterparts: for example, 4 feet of Jamaican sodas and malt beverages; 8 feet of Hispanic-style chips; endcaps for Keebler's Export Soda Crackers and Badia Sazon (seasoning) packets; large sizes of Hispanic-brand rices and a good selection of dried beans. Publix has Hispanic specialty items in many other categories as well.
In the produce section, Publix offers special items for Latino shoppers, including malanga, yucca root, calabasa squash, aloe leaves, chayote squash and sour oranges. During SN's visit, Publix had put up a meal-solutions display in the produce aisle. Plantains (bananas), beans and rice were merchandised on an endcap, and signs compared Publix's prices to Sedano's.
SN also visited a small Winn-Dixie unit at Palm Avenue and Johnson Street, which has Hispanic specialty items in produce, but not much of a selection in the grocery aisles. SN saw water crackers and some Jamaican selections in the "Mexican Foods" aisle -- sodas, beans, seasonings and coffee.
The Winn-Dixie also has Hispanic brands of olive oils, some large sizes of rice, specialty canned fruit and beans, and specialty brands of lard. But on the whole, the selection is sparse, in comparison with what's available at the other units visited.