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Latin Food Brands Fighting to Stand Out Via Healthier-for-you Products

ANAHEIM, Calif. – American shoppers seeking Latin food demand healthier-for-you items – as well as heat. Those were the common sentiments among Mexican vendors at the recent Expo West 2024 trade show.

“People are saying, ‘Oh, that looks interesting; I want to try it,” Daniel Benites, owner of Salsa Del Diablo, told The Food Institute. By selling Latin products that are “delicious, flavorful, really healthy, you can’t go wrong,” he added.

Dennis Cole, director of retail for the Mi Rancho brand, has noticed a significant health kick among grocery shoppers. “When you’re shopping, if you watch the customers, they’re always grabbing tortilla packages, turning them over, and seeing what’s in them,” Cole said.

“Most of our products are organic. And being organic, that’s where the market is going. People are looking for healthier items.”

So, Cole added, “we try to stay away from genetically modified foods.”

Salsa Del Diablo, a brand based in Salt Lake City, Utah, has won over consumers with its vast product lineup. The brand boasts 50 varieties of sauces alone. Salsa Del Diablo has also leaned into the health-and-wellness trend by sourcing locally for its seasonal items.

“Our style is Mexico City meets California salsa,” Benites said. “What I’m finding is that Mexican street corn (flavor), people go crazy for it. Seasonal (sauces) are starting to make a push. We do a blood-orange salsa, a citrus-based salsa.

“Really spicy sauces are starting to grow, but we’re finding that they need to be flavorful. And spicy salsa is popular – unique sauces that really stand out.”

Meanwhile, with consumers as interested as ever in sustainability, brands like Mi Rancho are focusing on local sourcing for items such as corn. After all, industry leaders like Cole know modern consumers are paying close attention to issues like carbon footprints.

“We try to keep it local,” Cole said. “We’re not shipping from across the country on a truck.”

Despite being an 85-year-old brand, Mi Rancho nevertheless stays attuned to trending consumption habits. That’s why the 100% organic brand just released gluten-free tortillas and offers low-carb burrito tortillas.

“The standards of low-carb is if you reduce the carbs below the federal government’s level of standard carbs – and you’re talking about milligrams, really,” Cole explained. “But it is a selling point.”

If Expo West was any indication, Mexican F&B brands will push further into boldly flavored, healthier-for-you items in 2024.