Big Shots: Goya’s Robert and Bob Unanue

The father-son team behind the largest Hispanic-owned food company in the U.S. spills the beans on making them for a crossover market

Producing healthy food with authentic Latin flavors—that’s the mission of Goya, the largest Hispanic-owned food goods manufacturer operating in the United States. Today the 78-year-old business is quickly expanding; Goya products are becoming available at larger retailers and the company has opened a new 250,000-square-foot facility in the City of Industry. Robert and Bob Unanue, the father-son duo running the show, sat down with Giselle Fernandez to talk about the growing power of the Latino marketplace and the challenges that come with going mainstream. Here are some highlights from the conversation:

On why the Hispanic community isn’t more influential in the American marketplace—yet:
“[The community] has gone from a very small to a very large percentage, so I think there’s a lag time for that to catch up, but I think it will. You can’t ignore the purchasing power and the diverse culture of the Latino community.” – Robert Unanue

On how Goya moved from bodegas into supermarkets:
“In New York, we were in the bodegas, we weren’t accepted into the supermarkets. There was prejudice, there was the element of the Latino wasn’t wanted in the stores until the consumption and demand became such that they said, ‘Okay we’ll give you a spot.’” – Robert Unanue

On the challenge of being a Hispanic company working with mainstream retailers:
“Some of our customers will say, ‘These are Hispanic areas, we’re going to put you in this store because it’s a Hispanic store.’ Which is kind of funny because we’re in the general market throughout most of the country, and L.A. being such a large transplant city, I really find it funny they wouldn’t… give us a larger itemization because it’s not a ‘Hispanic store’… It can be a trial.” – Bob Unanue

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