SNAC Member Profile: Traditional Roots, Innovative Future

December 1, 2017

Anita’s Mexican Foods Corp is a true testament of hard work, entrepreneurial spirit, and the fulfillment of the American dream.  In 1952, a young Mauro Robles left his home in Mexico to work on the American railroad yards under the “Bracero” program, which means “laborer” in Spanish. After earning citizenship in the 1950’s and settling in Southern California, Robles realized only one thing was missing: the Mexican tastes and flavors of his native home. Equipped with immense ambition and $5,000 in savings, Mauro Robles opened La Reina Inc., a small tortilla-making business on May 4, 1958, in a small storefront in East Los Angeles.

As business prospered and a growing number of consumers were exploring exotic flavors and textures, the Robles family acquired Anita’s Mexican Foods Corp in 1978, a San-Bernardino-based tortilla company. Anita’s continued to expand and proved to be on the forefront of major innovation. In 1987, they pioneered an untapped niche for healthier, gluten-free corn-based products, introducing organic blue, white and yellow corns and using suppliers that offered GMO-free corn exclusively.

Through the rapid growth and development, Anita’s Mexican Foods Corp remains dedicated to its family lineage, long-time employees, and quality service. “Like any family run business spanning nearly 60 years, there have been many ups and downs,” said Mauro Gomez, vice-president, sales and marketing. “Through all our challenges and opportunities, we constantly look deep into our mission and vision and ask how our choices and decisions will not only affect the business we operate, but the employees we work with day-in and day-out.”

In 2014, Anita’s received California’s U.S. Small Business Persons of the Year award for growing company revenues more than 100 percent over the prior three years and growing its work force to over 360 employees.  Anita’s was also the runner-up for the national U.S. Small Business Persons of 2014 award.

While Anita’s Mexican Foods Corp. is known and recognized for their growth, innovation, and loyalty among its employees, the same could be said about their co-manufacturing base. Many of the company’s private label items are sold to retailers including national, organic, and specialty stores.

“As a co-pack and private label manufacturer, much of our work centers on the ability to create and customize original products,” said Mr. Gomez. “Our company made a conscious decision over 20 years ago to not compete with our partners, but to focus on our core competencies of quality and innovation. In today’s marketplace, we are primed for the major trends leading the way: smaller portion sizes and unique flavors.”

What originally began as a flour tortilla manufacturer has grown into three divisions: Anita’s Snacks, La Reina, and La Tolteca, a regional tortilla manufacturer on the central coast of California. Anita’s currently operates out of a 145,000-sq-ft facility with six production lines that produce fried tortilla chips, pellet snacks and taco shells. The operations carry certifications ranging from Safe Quality Food (SQF) level 3 compliance, Organic, Non-GMO, Gluten Free, and more.

However, advancements won’t stop there, Gomez explains how the company will continue adapting in the evolving snack category. “Continually re-investing in our people and equipment has kept our business moving forward. To stay in step with snack product trends, we’ve made investments largely focused in the packaging area, diversifying and expanding our capabilities to handle a variety of flexible packaging formats and sizes,” said Mr. Gomez.

Anita’s is a relatively new, but active member of SNAC International, having attended many educational and networking events—most recently the Executive Leadership Forum in Colorado Springs, CO. Anita’s also sponsored the Excellence in Sales and Marketing seminar which took place last May. “We have been very grateful to be a part of SNAC. We have found numerous opportunities networking with other members,” said Mr. Gomez. “More importantly, the educational sessions SNAC provides has allowed fellow team members to benefit in ways we could not have accomplished on our own.”

Although Anita’s Mexican Foods Corp has found sustained success from its humble beginnings, the company stays true to its traditional roots. The company culture can be described as “very much a family atmosphere” one that drives innovation and openly discusses ideas, said Mr. Gomez. “Innovation has been the key to our success from the beginning.” Featured in the November: International Trends issue of SNAC World Magazine.