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Rice, Pasta and Noodles in Latin America

February 2020

The strong presence of rice in traditional Latin American cuisine contributes to overall positive category growth. However, the economic crises in various countries has made affordability a top priority for many consumers, further benefiting leading local brands. As both urbanisation and the health and wellness trend expand across the region, the demand for innovative products that meet modern convenience and nutritional preferences continues to grow.

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Key Findings

Lower-priced brands fare better than higher-priced ones

Latin Americans’ consumer preference for affordability has resulted in them often opting for lower-priced options within rice, pasta, and noodles. The economic crises certain countries have experienced, have largely fuelled this attraction to lower-priced products. This makes cost-effective local and private label brands well positioned for continued growth.

Domestic brands dominate, for now

Local players are most prevalent and remain the leaders in rice, pasta, and noodles. In part, due to consumer preference for affordability, many higher-priced imported brands have historically found it difficult to compete. However, some international players are gaining relevance; imported brands now offering convenience have seen significant growth, despite having higher unit prices.

Convenience factor is on the rise

As consumers lead busier lives, they are increasingly drawn to products and channels that offer convenience. For example, instant noodle cups, which are often both convenient and cost-effective meals, are gaining popularity, particularly among young people on the go. Brazil is also seeing convenience stores and mixed retailers steal share from more traditional supermarkets/hypermarkets.

Nutrition labelling law initiatives are enacted

These initiatives have resulted in greater public interest surrounding healthy versus unhealthy ingredients and portion sizes. Since most rice and pasta are free of any negative labels, this may benefit the category.

Companies expand their health and wellness offerings

As consumers become more aware of the link between their health and the food they consume, there is an increased interest in choosing products deemed as healthy. In response to this health trend, manufacturers are expected to continue to innovate and launch new products with added health and wellness features.



Key findings

Regional Overview

Middle East and Africa race ahead, while Latin America lags behind
Changing consumer preferences support slow but steady growth
Rice is most prevalent across the region, with Brazil in the lead
Instant noodles is the fastest growing category in most markets
Chilled pasta registers weak absolute growth…
…while rice, dried pasta, and instant noodles remain strong
Independent small grocers and supermarkets dominate…
…followed by supermarkets and hypermarkets

Leading Companies and Brands

Low-priced domestic brands reign across the region
Leading brands are split between offering convenience or health add-ons
Leading companies tend to rely on sales from a single country
Product line expansion and innovation help leading brands remain on top

Forecast Projections

Despite category maturity…
…nutrition labelling laws and concern for health may benefit future sales
Population and GDP per capita projected to push category growth…
…meanwhile soft drivers pose potential challenges

Country Snapshots

Argentina: market context
Argentina: competitive and retail landscape
Bolivia: market context
Bolivia: competitive and retail landscape
Brazil: market context
Brazil: competitive and retail landscape
Chile: market context
Chile: competitive and retail landscape
Colombia: market context
Colombia: competitive and retail landscape
Costa Rica: market context
Costa Rica: competitive and retail landscape
Dominican Republic: market context
Dominican Republic: competitive and retail landscape
Ecuador: market context
Ecuador: competitive and retail landscape
Guatemala: market context
Guatemala: competitive and retail landscape
Mexico: market context
Mexico: competitive and retail landscape
Peru: market context
Peru: competitive and retail landscape
Uruguay: market context
Uruguay: competitive and retail landscape


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