La Preferida Inc.
Issue Winter 10
One of the nation’s largest family-owned producers of Mexican foods continues to expand and improve on its already extensive and comprehensive product line. Chicago-based La Preferida offers a complete line of about 300 authentic Mexican food products including canned and dry beans, rice, salsa, tamales, spices, pork rinds, tortillas, and chorizo, a Mexican sausage.
“It is our company’s goal to continue to develop and bring to market new fresh, trendy products for both the Hispanic and Anglo markets,” President and COO Rich Steinbarth explains.
“We look to provide authentic Mexican food products for all segments of the food industry including retail, foodservice and industrial food business.”
La Preferida is building on its reputation for high-quality products. “We are focused on continually sourcing only the finest ingredients available for our products,” Steinbarth says.
Products including refried beans, tamales, salsas and other prepared foods are packed in Chicago, while many of the company’s pepper-based items such as jalapenos, serranos and chipotle peppers are packed in Mexico. The company also imports products from other countries including the Dominican Republic, Brazil and Spain.
La Preferida is working on developing new, healthier items including low-sodium pinto beans, chick peas and black beans. Several of the company’s spices are also being reformulated to reduce their sodium content. “We will continue to offer healthier items to our consumers,” Steinbarth says.
Other items under development include a new organic line of products as well as sustainable packaging such as plastic stand-up pouches that can serve as an alternative to tin cans. The company also recently updated its logo to give it a bolder and more contemporary look, he adds.
La Preferida’s products can be found in major grocery chains as well as smaller, specialty independent retailers throughout the United States and online. Within its home base in the Chicago area, the company uses an in-house distribution network for independent stores and partners with full-service specialty food distributors for large chains.
Elsewhere, the company teams with national and regional specialty food distributors. “Our company is extremely grateful to all our distributor partners for playing a pivotal role in our retail growth throughout the country,” says David Steinbarth, president of the company’s branded division.
La Preferida products also have an international presence through the efforts of LP International Inc., a division based in Bedford Park, Ill. that exports to customers in 20 different countries. LP International is one of the company’s two divisions.
The company’s second division, World Wide Produce, also based in Chicago, sells fruits and vegetables to Hispanic and Asian food stores as well as major grocery chains and foodservice companies.
The company’s roots extend back to 1924, when Steinbarth’s grandfather Henry, a German immigrant, opened a grocery store and butcher shop in Chicago’s southwest side.
Many Mexican and Puerto Rican families began moving into the neighborhood in the 1940s, prompting the Steinbarth family to begin making its own chorizo.
Henry’s son Ralph H. Steinbarth expanded on the chorizo even further in 1949 when he incorporated the operation, naming it La Preferida – Spanish for “The Preferred” – because of the high quality of its products. The company has manufactured its own foods since 1952.
The company’s tradition of excellence continues today, not only with the Steinbarth family – now entering its fourth generation with the addition of Rich Steinbarth’s son Tom and nephew John – but also with a number of loyal, long-time employees.
“We are very fortunate as a company to have such a dedicated team that meets and excels at understanding our customers’ needs and continues to build upon the solid relationships we have established over the years,” Rich Steinbarth says. “Our employees are not only our partners in success, but also our future.”