Ethnic identity and dietary habits among Hispanic immigrants in Spain

Rodrigo Romo (Departamento de Gestión Empresarial, Universidad del Bío‐Bío, Chillán, Chile)
José M. Gil (CREDA‐UPC‐IRTA, Parc Mediterrani de la Tecnologia, Barcelona, Spain)

British Food Journal

ISSN: 0007-070X

Publication date: 10 February 2012



Focussing on Latin American immigrants in Barcelona, the objective of this paper is twofold: to measure their degree of ethnical identity; and to analyse the relationship between food habits and their ethnical identity.


Face‐to‐face interviews with a representative sample of Latin American immigrants in the Metropolitan area of Barcelona are undertaken. Ethnic identity is measured using the MEIM scale, which combines aspects from the social identity and personal development theories. Finally, a Multinomial Logit Model is used to identify the relationship between food habits and ethnical identity.


Results indicate that the higher the level of ethnic identity and feeling of belonging of immigrants in Catalonia, the greater the persistence of dietary habits from the country of origin. Contrasting with results from other studies, no correlation is found between the persistence of dietary habits and either the length of time spent in Spain or the level of integration into the Catalan culture (measured through use of the Catalan language).

Research limitations/implications

Findings should logically be interpreted within the context of the population and sample studied. Further research should be addressed to analyze other immigrant groups such as Muslims, Asians and Eastern Europeans.


This study explores the strength of traditional food habits of immigrants living in a foreign cultural environment and the role of ethnic identity in contributing to this strength. While past literature focussing on this topic is based on atheoretical and partial indicators to measure ethnic identity, this study provides evidence on the usefulness of using a theory‐based and multidimensional measure. The behaviour of Latin American immigrants in Spain is used as a case study.



Romo, R. and Gil, J.M. (2012), "Ethnic identity and dietary habits among Hispanic immigrants in Spain", British Food Journal, Vol. 114 No. 2, pp. 206-223.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2012, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

To read the full version of this content please select one of the options below

You may be able to access this content by logging in via Shibboleth, Open Athens or with your Emerald account.
To rent this content from Deepdyve, please click the button.
If you think you should have access to this content, click the button to contact our support team.