Q/A with Ruiz Foods' Bryce Ruiz

In this new feature, Toops And Friends, News and Trends Editor Diane Toops sits down with Bryce Ruiz, president and co-CEO of Dinuba, Calif.-based Ruiz Foods.

By Diane Toops – News & Trends Editor

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Today, the products we develop under our El Monterey brand continue to help consumers put great meals on the table for an affordable price.  Case in point:  the four El Monterey Family Meal flavors that were introduced less than a year ago. Available in four varieties, each flavor-packed Mexican meal combination is easy to prepare and comes in their own convenient heat-and-serve tray.  Serving four to five people for under $10, El Monterey Family Meals bring the ‘restaurant’ experience right to the kitchen table.

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FP: Are there any new products in the pipeline you’d like to tell us about?

Sorry, it’s too soon to talk about some of the new products our R&D Department is working on but one El Monterey product very recently introduced to the retail channel … by popular demand of our own consumers … are the Tornados by El Monterey we originally introduced to the c-store roller grill.  Research told us consumers wanted to be able to enjoy Tornados by El Monterey at home in addition to buying them at their local convenience stores.  So … we now have six flavors of Tornados by El Monterey for the retail channel, distributed nationally, and perfect for the Mexican food lover who is interested in trying new textures and flavors.

FP: Ruiz has a long legacy of commitment to community involvement. These are tough economic times, but you continue that legacy. Could you tell us about some of those initiatives?

BR: Both Kim and I firmly believe in giving back to the communities in which both our Team Members and we live.  It’s really quite simple.  Our communities and the children in our communities are the future.  As stewards of our family company, it’s important to recognize the responsibility we have to those very same communities. Our initiatives focus on children and education. Within the past 12 months: our in-house Ruiz 4 Kids non profit organization just held its annual Louis F. Ruiz Invitational and raised $151,000 for scholarships for 191 area students; Ruiz Foods and the Ruiz Family recently pledged $1million to Children’s Hospital of Central California; Ruiz Foods and the Ruiz Family recently pledged $250,000 to Visalia, California’s Kaweah Delta District Hospital’s newly constructed Mother/Baby wing; Ruiz Foods donated $2000 to the Denison, TX Boys and Girls Club “Adopt A Room” program; and Ruiz Foods donated $5000 to the Denison, Texas Chapter of the United Way.

FP: Healthier products are the focus of consumers today. Could you tell us how your brands have changed to fit into that focus?

BR: We are constantly reviewing the ingredients used in our products as we look for ways to make them ‘healthier.’  For example:  all of our El Monterey brand products contain 0 grams trans fat. 

FP: These are tough economic times. What issues keep you awake at night?

BR: I don’t know if any particular ‘issues’ keep me awake at night but as president and co-CEO, a Ruiz family member and, therefore, part owner, I recognize that we are not only responsible for the livelihood of 2,600 Ruiz team members but for the spouses and children of those team members. While it’s a tremendous responsibility, and one I totally embrace, it’s a responsibility that also keeps me focused on the fact that I must always do my best … to keep our philosophy … our founding principals … what we call “The Ruiz Way” … at the top of my mind each and every day.

FP: Conversely, what are the achievements you are proudest of?

BR: I’m proudest of the fact that all our accomplishments – our achievements – are the result of exceptional teamwork.  We are amazing together.  We communicate, we value each other’s ideas, we give it 150 percent all the time, we genuinely enjoy what we do … we are blessed.

FP: What are your favorite foods, and what foods would you stockpile if you were marooned on an island, and why? 

BR: The food I would stockpile is our own El Monterey Beef and Bean Chimichanga.  Why?  It’s our number one item and for a reason … it’s yummmmmmmmmy.

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