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Dec 21, 2021

Years ago, Taco Bell implored people to “make a run for the border.” It’s a slogan that probably irked Hector Saldivar, a Mexican born entrepreneur who views fast food tacos and burritos as poor representations of his country’s cuisine and culture. Moreover, he believes that menu items like those at Taco Bell have misled generations of Americans into thinking that Mexican food is cheap, greasy and lacking in nutritional value. 

It’s one of the reasons that Salitivar launched Tia Lupita, a brand rooted in the flavors of his mother’s kitchen and better-for-you, sustainable ingredients.

Tia Lupita markets a flagship line of clean label hot sauces, along with grain-free and low carb tortillas and tortilla chips that are made with a base of cactus flour. The brand, whose logo features a caricature of Hector’s bespectacled mother with a pink curling roller in her hair, is carried at retailers including Whole Foods and Central Market, and recently landed chain-wide distribution of its hot sauces at H-E-B. 

In an interview featured in this episode, Saldivar spoke about how Tia Lupita has positioned itself as both a modern and authentic Mexican food brand, how he’s attempting to educate consumers around one of the brand’s key ingredients, the retail strategy for three distinct product lines and what he’s learned as an immigrant entrepreneur.

Show notes:

0:44: Hector Saldivar, Founder/CEO, Tia Lupita – Saldivar spoke with Taste Radio editor Ray Latif about why he was especially excited about Tia Lupita being on shelf at H-E-B, why the first words in his LinkedIn bio are “I am an immigrant” and how recipes link generations of Mexican families. He also explained his decision to leave a corporate role at a large food company in order to launch Tia Lupita, using the brand’s logo and labels to counter stereotypes about Mexican culture, and why the company is focused on updating and innovating authentic food. Later, he discussed his perspective on the growing number of better-for-you Mexican food brands and how Tia Lupita is promoting nutritional value as a way to differentiate itself from competitors, his mother’s surprising admission about the brand’s hot sauces, identifying white space for lower calorie tortillas, why he describes the company’s tortilla chips as “a happy accident” and how he addressed an ever-present elephant in the room.

Brands in this episode: Tia Lupita, Siete