Miguel Garza knew he was onto something when his grandmother first tried an almond flour tortilla made by his sister. She told him, “This is not just good…it might taste better than what I grew up with.” His grandmother made flour tortillas by hand, a staple in their Mexican-American household.
Garza is the co-founder and CEO of Siete Foods, a family–run $250M business with over 100 employees, based in Austin, Texas. Latinos are the fastest growing population in the United States, and decades have passed since the category has seen strong challenger brands emerge. Old El Paso, for instance, was founded in 1917, Goya in 1936 and Ortega in 1897.
Now there is a new generation of Mexican-American consumers looking for better-for-you versions of their childhood favorites. And brands are emerging to support this growth. In addition to Siete, SOMOS was launched earlier this year by the founder of Kind and the company is now sold nationwide. Agua Bonita is tackling better for you aguas frescas and has recently caught the attention of 7-11. Nopalera makes heritage-inspired beauty products that have landed on the shelves of Nordstrom
The Mexican-American consumer market is growing by leaps and bounds. By 2024, Latinos will comprise 11.4% of buying power in the US, according to Nielsen. What’s more, the population is outpacing non-Hispanics. And embracing cultural identity is important to this segment.
This is something that Siete Foods recognized early on. The company focuses on making better-for-you, heritage-inspired meal enhancements, meal solutions, and snacks. Avocado oil is a central ingredient, and everything is grain-free. Founded in 2014, Siete Foods is now sold in over 16,000 stores nation-wide.
The company is tracking strongly with Mexican-American consumers, according to the data. Garza says, “As a Mexican-American food brand we want to honor and celebrate our heritage. It’s exciting when we see that we over-index with Latinos. It’s encouraging, and it gives us confidence to keep building authentically because representation matters, representation at the shelf matters. And we now have a duty and a responsibility to do that well.”
Siete Foods is now growing faster than Topo Chico. Over the last year they have seen 136% growth in retail outlets (MULO), and sell 60+ products across those locations. This is in contrast to Goya, whose sales declined by 6% last year, according to SPINS. The company is now experiencing stronger growth than Mission and Old El Paso.
Garza joins the ranks of companies like Saffron Road and Tastybite who began innovating in the Asian-food category years ago by creating highly desirable products and demanding space on the shelf that is more representative of their culture.
Over the last two years emergent brands like Fly By Jing, Diaspora Co, and AYO Foods have become popular with consumers. Many launched direct to consumer brands over the height of the COVID pandemic and were able to capture audiences via social media with their compelling origin stories. These brands are rejecting the notion of the ‘ethnic aisle.’ And they are winning at the shelf, closing impressive rounds of venture capital and private equity funding and launching in retailers like Target
Garza is proud to play a leading role in this cultural shift. He shares, “I’m hopeful that if we can prove that you can authentically share your heritage and culture at the shelf, it will provide more opportunity for others to do the same. Because food is such a powerful vehicle for connection. Aside from the business that we want to build, this is about opening doors and acceptance of heritage-inspired foods in mainstream retail. That’s probably the thing that I’ll tell my daughter about – how we’re able to impact the industry in a way that has reverberations into the future. That’s what I’ll be immensely proud of.”