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Ruiz Foods snaps up former Heinz plant

By Jenni Spinner+

04-Jun-2014

Ruiz Foods, a manufacturer of frozen Mexican meals and snacks, has acquired a former Heinz plant to fuel expansion.
Ruiz Foods, a manufacturer of frozen Mexican meals and snacks, has acquired a former Heinz plant to fuel expansion.

The producer has purchased the 225,000-square-foot Heinz frozen food plant to accommodate growing demand for its Hispanic cuisines.

Ruiz Foods acquired the Florence, South Carolina facility, which contains up-to-date processing and packaging equipment, from Heinz. After renovating the plant, the new owner plans to start manufacturing its El Monterey and Tornados products in 2015.

Growing demand

Rachel Cullen, president and CEO of Ruiz Foods, told FoodProductionDaily the acquisition will further the producer’s strategic growth plans.

Our expansion strategy included establishing a manufacturing facility on the East Coast,” she said. “Our products are in high demand with significant growth on the East Coast, and for us at Ruiz Foods, it’s all about customer service.”

The plant is relatively young—built and furnished in 2008—so the equipment inside is fairly current. Its modernity, and location, made it a good acquisition target, Cullen said.

Local economy

Once the facility is at full tilt, the South Carolina facility will employ more than 500 staffers. According to Buddy Brand, chair of the Florence County Economic Development Partnership Board and Mayor Protempore of the City of Florence, Ruiz Foods’ acquisition will benefit the local workforce and economy.

The arrival of Ruiz Foods as an integral business in our industrial base is most welcome to our community,” he said. “We have no doubt that this premier organization will see success in Florence and continue their rapid growth history.”

South Carolina isn’t the only growth center for Ruiz Foods. The producer also is expanding its corporate headquarters in Dinuba (sited in California’s Central San Joaquin Valley) and another manufacturing facility located in Denison, Texas.

The formal announcement of the changeover (scheduled June 17) will include presentations by South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley. Sen. Hugh Leatherman Sr., chair of the Senate Finance Committee Senator also will speak at the event.

El Monterey, the flagship brand for Ruiz Foods, includes burritos, tamales, breakfast burritos, and appetizers. Tornados, geared toward convenience stores, is a grab-and-go edible consisting of a tortilla rolled up and filled with a range of ingredients.

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