Tio Pablo manufactures and imports authentic Mexican food. Owner Faine Alexander discussed the company’s journey so far and where she would like to go forward with her brand.
What is your company background, how did you start the business?
“I grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area, and have lived in New Zealand for the last twenty years. I have a passion for cooking with Mexican flavours. Tex-Mex food is prevalent in the South Western part of America and is delicious in its own right, but I enjoy studying traditional recipes, using core, Mexican ingredients, and creating my own version. Like most people, I am influenced by life experiences, travel, and what I find available locally.
Tio Pablo was founded in 2006 and started with a temperamental, tiny machine producing corn tortillas for specialty shops in the Auckland area. Over the past eleven years, our range has extended into a full range of Mexican products.
Sourcing from Mexico, California and within New Zealand helps us to provide both high-quality and authentic products. All of our products are gluten-free, and our corn tortillas are baked using non-GMO grown corn. We do not use any artificial flavours or colours and aim to use as few additives as possible.”
What is the current product range and how do these products stand out in the market?
“Interest in Mexican food has absolutely taken off in the last few years, which has been wonderful. Whether the awareness has grown from New Zealanders travelling abroad, cooking shows or social media, we have received great public support to push the boundaries as we expand.
Our primary product, the corn tortilla, is the base of all Mexican food. We bake three different sizes to accommodate customer demand. In addition, we manufacture spice mixes, chilli salts, salsas, roasted nuts and seeds and spicy hot chocolate.
Over the years, we started supplying to customers the core ingredients that we use for manufacturing. More and more New Zealanders are requesting specific dried chillis and herbs that were, until quite recently, unknown in this part of the world.
To complement Tio Pablo, we import and distribute La Morena canned refried beans, chillis and salsas. I have a great relationship with La Morena, a family-run business, and admire their desire to create clean products, made the old-fashioned way. Their famous Chipotle Peppers in Adobo Sauce is like no other. I have personally visited the fields where the jalapeños are grown, and the neighbouring pecan orchards that provide wood for smoking them.”
Has there been any recent company news?
“At the end of 2016, we launched three new, chilli-infused corn tortillas and, for our snack range, we introduced spicy rockmelon seeds, roasted with chilli, hibiscus, lime, garlic and cinnamon.”
What are the plans for the business moving forward, is there any expansion on the horizon?
“We have another salsa in the pipeline and some exciting new prospects within manufacturing and import. Last year we relocated to a larger facility as we needed to expand production and have larger storage capability.”
Where are your products currently available to buy, and are you looking at or wanting to expand your availability? If so, where would you like to see the product situated?
“We are stocked in many New World, Pak’nSave and Countdown stores throughout the country. More extensive ranges are available in speciality food stores throughout the North Island such as Farro Fresh, Moore Wilsons and Vetro.
Customers may also order online and do not incur a delivery fee. This is a good option for foodies who live in rural areas and are after less mainstream products.”