Lita’s Mexican Foods offers an authentic taste of Mexico. From Vancouver to stores all across Canada, they have been representing México’s cuisine and culture with high-quality products for more than 7 years. We had a great talk with Co-Founder Jackie Thomas to learn more about their story.
What is your business called and what does it do?
Lita’s Mexican Foods is my company’s name and we are on a mission to authentically represent México’s cuisine and culture with high-quality products that are built upon a social and environmental purpose by recreating traditional Mexican foods as clean label, convenient vegan products while operating with strong values that help create a better world. We often get asked who Lita is and actually Lita is the nickname our daughter gave her grandmother because she couldn’t say Abuelita when she was little.
What made you want to do this work?
Well, I certainly did not imagine that I would ever be making tortillas and other Mexican foods, but here I am, and the reason I am doing this is because of my husband Argelio Santos. Lita’s started in our home about 7 years ago because he couldn’t find any uncooked fresh flour tortillas in grocery stores that tasted like the ones he ate growing up in México. So one day, we started to make them, and sure enough, friends started to buy them. Lita’s was sparked by his need for a good tortilla and a gap in the market for an authentic flour tortilla.
What problem did you want to solve with the business?
We are tackling two main issues with our products – the lack of authentic clean-label Mexican foods in Canada and plastics in the food space. I already mentioned above what we are doing with our products, but I want to share what we are doing to reduce our plastic footprint and how buying our products can support this. We all know that plastic is everywhere and unfortunately, tortillas and many other frozen food items have to be packaged in plastic for food safety reasons. So while we wait for a bio solution, we are tackling our plastic footprint by removing twice the amount of plastic from nature as we use in our manufacturing and packaging, which we do with the help of our impact partners and rePurpose Global. We are proud to be the world’s first Plastic Negative tortilla manufacturer and so far we have removed over 300,000 single-use plastic bags from nature.
Who are your clientele/demographics?
Everyone loves tacos right? We want our products to be everyone’s go-to for a delicious, easy and quick-to-make, preservative-free Mexican-inspired meal.
How does your business make money? How does it work?
We sell the products we make to retail stores and restaurants and cafes, and then they sell to you. So far, we have 7 products including our Certified Organic uncooked flour tortillas (white and whole wheat), our Vegan Taquitos (potato & chorizo, and bean & cheeze), and 3 Taco Meal Kits (Bean, Tinga, and Cochinita).
Where in the city can we find your profession?
Our production facility is in Richmond, and we have a little storefront there so you can stop in and buy our products directly from us, or you can find us at various events and Vancouver farmers markets. But mainly, you can find our products sold in the natural frozen convenience aisle in several grocery stores including Whole Foods, Spud, Safeway, Thrifty’s, and many more. Our website has a more complete list.
What is the best question a prospective customer could ask a member of your profession when comparing services? Give the answer as well.
What makes your tortillas better than others and why flour and not corn? We get asked this A LOT! Mexican food is very regional and my husband is from the North, where they eat flour and corn tortillas, so this is why we are focusing on flour and not corn. The quality of our tortillas is the highest you will find in Canada because we do not use any dough conditioners or additives which are typically found in flour tortillas, and we do not use canola oil. In order to recreate that flaky soft texture you will find in an authentic lard-based flour tortilla in México, we use organic steam-refined coconut oil. PLUS, you cook the tortilla yourself for the freshest levelled-up taco experience!
What is the best part about what you do? What is the worst part?
My husband immigrated to Canada to be with me, and while I am not an immigrant, I watched him go through the entire process of not being hired or being paid less than he deserved just because he was Mexican. So the best part is that as a business owner, I can prioritize hiring people who face barriers to employment due to various forms of marginalization. The worst part is that the CPG space is like living on a roller coaster and some days it is really hard to keep going, but I do because the worst part is also the part that I can grow from.
What is your favourite joke about your own profession?
Currently, the biggest joke is that food producers are the cause of higher shelf prices. I can guarantee this is not the case. A grocery code of conduct is needed in our industry and I’m hoping it happens soon.
Where can we follow you?
PAY IT FORWARD: What is another local business that you love?
I want to give a shout-out to 2 local package-free businesses that I have been partners with for many years. One is Kind Cafe, which is, unfortunately, shutting down due to the current climate and the other is NADA, which actually just joined forces with JARR. You can find our products at NADA in package-free form, which is a great thing!