Ethnic food attitudes and behaviour among Belgians and Hispanics living in Belgium

Wim Verbeke (Ghent University, Ghent, Belgium)
Gisela Poquiviqui López (Ghent University, Ghent, Belgium)

British Food Journal

ISSN: 0007-070X

Publication date: 1 December 2005



Awareness and testing of ethnic cuisine have increased in the past decades as a consequence of the growing international trade, migration, tourism and globalisation. This article aims to focus on the attitude and behaviour of Belgians towards Latin‐American ethnic foods, and of Hispanics living in Belgium towards mainstream Belgian food.


The role of socio‐demographic characteristics, food neophobia, and degree of acculturation or openness on food preference and choice among these two population groups is analysed. A survey with 119 Belgian and 127 Hispanic participants was performed. Data analysis deals with descriptive analyses and statistical validation of the perceived associations by means of chi‐square, t‐test, ANOVA, correlations, and stepwise multiple regression.


The overall opinion and degree of satisfaction of the Belgian sample towards ethnic food were favourable. Latin‐American food consumption and attitude of Belgians are negatively correlated with food neophobia, which is significantly higher among urban and 55+ aged consumers, and positively correlated with openness to new cultures. Taste and appearance were key attributes that determined Belgians' preference for ethnic foods. Hispanics' general perception towards Belgian mainstream food was favourable as well, although they considered their own food as being better in taste. Barriers to maintain Latin‐American food habits are availability and time constraints. Hispanics' adoption of traditional Belgian cuisine is positively correlated with time of residence in Belgium and negatively correlated with maintenance of native social interaction and language use. Food neophobia does not emerge as a determinant of Hispanics' dietary acculturation to mainstream Belgian food.

Research limitations/implications

Data are collected from a relatively small convenience sample, which limits generalisation of the findings beyond the sample characteristics, which renders the findings exploratory rather than conclusive.


This paper covers important, not well‐explored and previously neglected research subjects, namely attitude, perceptions and behaviour towards ethnic food and food consumption among ethnic minorities in the increasingly globalised food market. The main contribution pertains to simultaneously investigating the role of socio‐demographic, acculturation and food neophobia on food consumption decisions.



Verbeke, W. and Poquiviqui López, G. (2005), "Ethnic food attitudes and behaviour among Belgians and Hispanics living in Belgium", British Food Journal, Vol. 107 No. 11, pp. 823-840.

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Copyright © 2005, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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