While many food manufacturers serve foodservice and retail clients, tortilla maker Fresca Mexican Foods focuses primarily on the foodservice industry, which helps explain how it can offer a fresher and more supple product that doesn’t tear or crack when rolled into wraps or burritos. The Boise, Idaho-based company uses few preservatives in its products, which have a refrigerated shelf life of 10 to 14 days – compared to the typical retail product, which is required to have a shelf life of 60 to 90 days.
“Most companies split their focus between retail and foodservice, and they don’t overly differentiate between the two segments,” President and CEO Andy Savin remarks. “If you take a dozen of our white flour tortillas out of the freezer and let them thaw to room temperature and then compare against the same product that came off our line that day, you can’t tell the difference between the products. When they thaw out, they retain that same aroma, taste and freshness they had when they first came off the line.”
Fresca’s distributors typically deliver to their foodservice clients once or twice a week, which allows Fresca to focus on offering top quality and flavor instead of long shelf life. The company’s four main product groups – homestyle tortillas, hand-stretched tortillas, corn tortillas and corn chips – are made with “the best and freshest” ingredients, Savin says.
Although Fresca makes 2.5 million tortillas a day, its 82,000-square-foot facility that sits on 4 acres has the capacity to make 5 million a day. “We’re growing steadily, and we have the facility to handle that growth,” Savin says.
Fresca’s growth plans include expanding its foodservice business, manufacturing private label products for distributors and retailers, and growing even more internationally. The company has a large presence in Asia and about 30 percent of all sales are outside the United States.
Last year, the company gained a large retail customer that launched Fresca into the retail market with private-label products. And although foodservice will remain their main focus, future expansion into retail represents a major opportunity. Despite retail products’ longer shelf life requirement, Savin says Fresca won’t compromise its high quality standards.
Fresca Mexican has been cultivating relationships with customers, distributors and employees since it was founded in 1977. Savin, along with a handful of private investors, acquired the company three years ago, and he acknowledges his good fortune in stepping into a culture of loyalty.
“There wasn’t a whole lot of turnover when I acquired the company, because what I inherited was an unusually strong culture, a loyal customer base and a strong manufacturing facility,” he says. “We’ll bend over backwards to take care of our customers. And whenever there is a problem, we take responsibility for it, and that goes a long way toward building those relationships.”
Fresca’s management team has an average tenure of more than 15 years, and its production line workers have been with the company for an average of more than eight. The company’s performance-oriented atmosphere, which also has a family feel, inspires employees. “If they fit in, they stay for quite a long time, and that helps us enormously when it comes to maintaining quality and worker safety,” Savin says.