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La Huerta USA Creates, Grows Brands By Touting Company’s Care For Its Products And People

La Huerta USA products

Last updated on August 29th, 2022 at 03:04 pm

by Kristen Cloud/web editor

Galen Walters met the Arteaga family in 2008 in The Woodlands, Texas. The family that in 1957 founded the vegetable and specialty foods company La Huerta—based in Aguascalientes, Mexico—came to The Woodlands to be nearer family.

It didn’t take long for Walters, a 40-year veteran in business operations and retail marketing with a passion for the grocery industry, to bond with the family—both personally and professionally.

“We just became very good friends, and I also tried to do everything I could to help their local family members assimilate into U.S. business as best they could,” Walters tells The Shelby Report.

Galen Walters
Galen Walters

It was through this relationship that Walters says he noticed that the food brokers representing the family’s company in the U.S. simply were not “delving deeper into who La Huerta really is.

“And the thing that struck me,” he adds, “is that they deserved a different level of engagement in the United States.”

Who is La Huerta?

Walters recognized over the years through his relationship with the Arteaga family and their company that, above all, they valued their employees and took pride in producing healthy and sustainably grown products.

“If you visit their farm in Aguascalientes, you’ll see what I believe is one of the most unique agricultural situations in the world. There are several thousand acres of farm that are fully worked by hand with over 2,000 workers. Actually, not too many years ago, they bought automated picking equipment and quickly realized they were much better off in controlling quality (in terms of rocks, bugs, foreign matter in the product) manually vs. with equipment.”

Employees are so important to the organization that those at the company’s headquarters in Mexico have access to a free on-site doctor and free medications; healthy meals in the cafeteria; onsite education programs to help them finish elementary, junior high and high school; scholarships for their children; facilities and training for a variety of sport activities; home construction assistance; zero-interest loans; an on-site daycare; and free, safe shuttles to and from work.

Additionally, the company’s farming fields are irrigated with deep well water and use special drip irrigation methods, which saves up to 70 percent of water when compared to traditional irrigation techniques. La Huerta also has developed its own proprietary biological pest control system, which fights pests in a natural way through beneficial insects, limiting—and in most cases altogether eliminating—the use of pesticides.

The company boasts numerous certifications, including SQG Level 3, USDA Organic, C-TPAT, kosher and HACCP.

“I fell in love with the idea that I could have a part in this in the United States to help them grow their brands, and try to introduce people here in the United States to healthy product, and a higher quality product, than all your national brands,” Walter says.

He touts the company’s efforts, pointing out that, “here we have a company that basically is a mid-size organization with a couple thousand employees on several thousand acres of land that is creating product that’s very healthy for us.

“I think what is exciting is the potential for growth and the fact that this is family-owned company; it’s not a large conglomerate,” Walters adds.“They have a passion for people, and they have a passion for quality vegetables. When you consider that they value sustainability, they want to do it right, and they take care of their people—there’s not a better combination for me to be involved. Whatever I can do to help them grow—that is what I’m going to do.”

La Huerta USA forms

La Huerta USA, based in Houston, was created in 2014 to manage sales and marketing in the U.S. and Caribbean markets. Walters leads La Huerta USA as CEO.

The division’s growth currently centers around two concepts: specialty and blends, which include products like California Vegetables Blend and Corn with Poblano Pepper Strips; and the recently released Little Farm Organics.

“To compete with the Green Giants and all these big guys head to head on commodity vegetables—it’s just not a winnable contest,” Walter says. “We’re not going to win that, but La Huerta creates a variety of specialty items and specialty blends. Those items are special to the Hispanic community and now special to a lot of your gringo communities, especially in the southeast United States and southwest United States.”

As for organics, La Huerta USA over the summer launched its organic frozen label—Little Farm Organics.

Walters explains that the brand name comes from Little Farm Frozen Foods, the U.S. sister company of La Huerta Mexico that is based in Brownsville, Texas.

“It is the distributor of all the La Huerta product that comes into the U.S. We just picked up the name Little Farm because No. 1, I love the name, and No. 2, they already own it.”

The line launched with eight products in 10- and 12-oz. packages: Broccoli Florets, California Style Blend, Carrot Medley, Cauliflower Florets, Chopped Curled Kale, Chopped Spinach, Cut Green Beans and Zucchini Medley.

Looking ahead at 2017 and beyond

Walters is clear: if he were a retailer, he would want La Huerta’s brands and products on his shelves.

“That’s what I say constantly to the retailers we work with: ‘I can’t imagine you not carrying this product.’

“And we’re being carried in some of the finest supermarkets—Fiesta, H-E-B, Rio Ranch, in Texas, and in several supermarkets in Arizona and California. The company also works with Unified Grocers in California, C&S Wholesale Grocers and Associated Wholesale Grocers in Texas, and its items can be found in many independent stores.

“But some of these larger chains, for them not to reach out and carry this product, it’s unfair to their customers,” says Walters, mentioning that La Huerta’s products are popular with both Hispanic and traditional American shoppers.

Piggybacking off the success of its organic line, La Huerta USA is rolling out a line of ready-to-eat, microwaveable meals near the end of 2017’s third quarter. Each meal will include a protein item accompanied by rice and beans. The line will include nine to 11 SKUs.

“These will be high-quality, wonderful meals that I would eat without hesitation,” Walter says.

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Featured Photo PLMA Annual Private Label Trade Show
Donald E. Stephens Convention Center
Chicago, Illinois
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