Mexican Corn Products Inc.
It is the quintessential Mexican snack; a crispy corn tortilla chip snack, topped with a dash of spicy salsa. Canadian consumers love their Mexican food, and in particular snack products. But did you know that the most popular Mexican flavours—aren’t really Mexican? The Tex-Mex influence on the corn chip market has shifted our perception of Mexican flavour in North America. Authentic Mexican taste is the primary focus of Mexican Corn Products Inc., a Canadian company offering truly Mexican flavour on its high quality corn chips. This family owned and operated business produces uniquely Mexican products for the Canadian snack food marketplace. Vice president Gabriela Laverty spoke with The Canadian Business Journal about how her family’s company came to be, and what is cooking for the future.
A new crack with snacks
Mexican Corn Products began as manufacturers of soft shell tortillas. After a year of production, the company decided to shift to the production of tortilla chips, which are crispy fried versions of Mexican soft tortillas. Eventually, it moved into other associated products such as salsas. Says Laverty, “We decided that tortilla chips were a much bigger product for the snack industry.” They also had a client, Farmboy, interested in a tortilla chip product, which was encouraging the product development. Fortunately, the equipment necessary for soft tortilla production is easily adaptable for tortilla chips, and Mexican Corn Products began to produce its deliciously crunchy tortilla chip snacks for the market. It turned out to be an intuitive move for this family business, as profits and progress have been steadily on the rise. Today the company manufactures chips for three private labels: Farm Boy (still a major client today), The Flatbread Factory, and Covered Bridge. It not only produces high quality corn chip products, but optimizes production and packaging for established brands through private labelling, providing unique solutions for this niche manufacturing market.
Finding the flavour
There is no denying the popularity of tortilla chip snacks in the Canadian market. After the production focus shifted entirely to tortilla chips, the process of establishing flavours became paramount. Intriguingly, the popular notion of ‘Mexican’ is not very Mexican at all. The Tex-Mex influence into flavouring has somewhat taken over the Mexican snack food market, thus helping to create a niche for the company’s authentic flavours. Says Laverty, “We started to make and formulate the first flavours. We wanted them to be very authentic Mexican flavours such as chipotle, lime and jalapeno.” The family, from Guadalajara, Mexico, looked to its roots to develop the tortilla chips’ authentic flavours. When growing up in Mexico, adds Laverty, “We used those flavours every day.” The concept was to take those everyday, basic Mexican spices and incorporate them into a Canadian snack food. The family went back to its roots to find the formulations and inspirations for flavours. Says Laverty with pride, “We got a lot from our own family; ideas, recipes and flavours.”
Private label products
Mexican Corn Products is very excited about the upcoming release of its very own private label, Los Cantores, set to launch in February 2010. Translated, Los Cantores means “the singers”, and the label took inspiration from family tradition. Says Laverty, “That was the name of the hacienda of my grandparents.” So what was the motivation behind launching its own private label? Laverty explains how multiple buyers and distribution companies were interested in the product itself, but didn’t want to be involved with a private label. “We came to a point where we thought we needed to be recognized for our product, ourselves and our history, using a generic label for everybody without having to compromise the whole background that we have been working on for so long.” Clearly, there is a pride taken in the products—something also demonstrated by the high quality level. Los Cantores is set to produce a private label line of corn chips and salsas, as well as other Mexican products such as agave syrup, a natural sweetner, and sangrita, a traditional drink mix for tequila.
In a market saturated with Mexican snack products, how does Mexican Corn Products Inc. plan to differentiate its Los Cantores private label? As previously mentioned, the authenticity and truly Mexican flavours add something special to the snacks. Only the highest quality ingredients are used and there are no additives or artificial ingredients. “Our products are about as natural they can possibly be,” says Laverty. The family takes an obvious pride in its business. She continues, “We want to make a difference in our industry with flavours that are not seen or are just different.” As a speciality, gourmet item, it is this kind of care and concern which will ensure that products stand out. This tasty line of corn chips, salsas and other Mexican delights are sure to start a fire in the snack food market.