SAN FRANCISCO —Miguel and Veronica Garza, the brother-and-sister team behind Siete Family Foods, never set out to start a business.
“It just kind of happened,” Ms. Garza recalled. “I had a product, and I realized people loved it.”
The product was grain-free tortillas, which Ms. Garza developed a few years ago to accommodate her own dietary needs. She, along with her family, had adopted a low-inflammation, grain-free diet after she was diagnosed with multiple autoimmune conditions. But as a Mexican-American family living in South Texas, they missed eating tacos and fajitas, the culinary staples of their culture.
“After starting to make them and introducing them to friends and family, there was surprisingly such a great response from people who were requesting I would make them, and that was happening on a weekly basis,” said Ms. Garza, co-founder and president of the company, in an interview with Food Business News. “People were emailing me, and word spread beyond the town I was living in. People were contacting me from various places, just hearing about them over Facebook and the internet.
“At that point, we realized it was something we wanted to share with others, and starting the business was the best way to do that.”
Today, Siete Family Foods offers three varieties of grain-free tortillas, featuring such ingredients as cassava, coconut and almond flours and pork lard, which are sold in approximately 500 retail outlets. At the Winter Fancy Food Show, held Jan. 22-24 in San Francisco, the Austin-based company unveiled a new range of grain-free tortilla chips made with cassava flour and avocado oil in sea salt, nacho and lime varieties.
“It’s not like we said, ‘Oh, we want to get into the tortilla chip game,’” said Mr. Garza, co-founder and chief executive officer. “It was more of a, ‘Hey, we miss this product, so if we made it for ourselves, and everybody else likes them, maybe we’ll give it a shot in the larger market.’”
He added, “We’re a small business, so we’re not running a ton of research data and focus groups. We’re really just trying to make sure we’re releasing products that are in line with our mission and our values and that we can get excited about and we can enjoy consuming and that we feel are real food, real ingredients, and that the products always have a certain level of integrity to fit certain dietary lifestyles.”
The Hispanic food and beverage market in the United States is projected to grow to more than $21 billion by 2020, and free-from products may be a key driver in the category, according to Packaged Facts, Rockville, Md. Grain-free food products grew 124% in 2015, according to SPINS, Chicago, noting more than 200 brands are labeling products as grain-free, grain-less or no grains. The popular paleo lifestyle and a number of similar diets avoid grains.“We know the trends exist and that certain things are getting popular, but we have been a part of the grain-free community for the past eight years, so for us it’s not a trend as much as it is a personal lifestyle,” Mr. Garza said. “We’re not trying to be everything for everybody by any means, but we want to be a grain-free Mexican food company. I think that encapsulates what we look to in the future.”