Facebook pixel

Customer Success Journeys

Read the stories directly from our customers that talk about their food manufacturing journey and learn from their experiences

Moreno Salsa

The Moreno Brothers are Changing the Salsa Game with Fruit-Forward Sensations

A Tale of Perseverance and Culinary Innovation. 

An interview with Alex Moreno

Learn More

The Moreno Brothers are Changing the Salsa Game with Fruit-Forward Sensations: A Tale of Perseverance and Culinary Innovation

In the bustling town of Elk Grove Village, located just outside of Chicago, Illinois, there lived two brothers, Dimas and Alex Moreno. Together, they embarked on a culinary adventure, creating a 100% fruit-inspired salsa company that married the traditional flavors of salsa with the sweetness of fresh, seasonal fruits.

The idea sparked when the two noticed that store-bought fruit salsas lacked the fresh, fruit-forward taste that the labels were suggesting. Dissatisfied with the misleading labels and the lack of authenticity, the Moreno brothers decided to develop a product that would offer customers a simple, fresh salsa with a focus on the fruit itself. With a small ingredient list and a commitment to quality, the brothers set out on their journey, starting with a mango salsa that was truly loaded with fresh-cut mango.

However, starting a business is never an easy task. The brothers faced several challenges in their quest to bring their dream to life. From finding the right suppliers to perfecting their recipes, each obstacle tested their resolve. But with persistence and a willingness to adapt, they overcame these hurdles and continued to grow their brand.

Their first big opportunity came when they partnered with the employee-owned American regional supermarket chain, Woodman’s Markets and began selling their products in stores. Their delicious salsa has also been featured at the gourmet burger restaurant, Kuma’s Corner. They also tapped into the power of local farmers’ markets, specialty grocers and boutique shops.

As their business grew, the brothers had to consider important operational factors such as food safety plans, testing, manufacturing, packaging, and compliance with USDA/FDA regulations. One major challenge they faced was finding the right balance between preserving the fresh flavor of their salsa while maintaining a decent shelf life. They considered high-pressure pasteurization, but found that it altered the flavor profile.

Determined to find a solution, they contacted several laboratories to perform testing on their products. After extensive research, the two of them decided to work with RL Food Testing, a company that not only offered the services they needed but also provided a reliable and supportive partnership. Alex tells us “I had contacted several laboratories to do our testing – did research on various labs and also tapped into our network to find lab partners.  We landed on using RL Food Testing because they answered the phone. We have since built a nice relationship.  RL Food Testing has helped us tremendously along the way as a partner who we felt wanted us to be successful. The biggest deciding factor on partnering with RL Food Testing was reliability.  RL food Testing picked up the phone. We could reach them anytime and they had the services that we needed.”

As the brothers continue to search for co-packers and perfect their manufacturing process, Alex has some advice for other new food manufacturers. He stresses the importance of setting realistic expectations, staying focused on the brand’s integrity, being patient with growth, and surrounding oneself with a good team. With these guiding principles, Alex believes that any entrepreneur can navigate the inevitable curveball that will come their way while finding success in the food industry.   The details of this inspirational wisdom is here:

  1. Unrealistic expectations: understand that success does not happen overnight.  Set up short and long term goals and celebrate successes along the way.  There is a lot of personal sweat that goes into business
  2. Stay focused and true to your brand and integrity of your product: the llack of planning could be the difference between a failure rate and succeeding in the long run. Balancing family, business and personal health is critical.
  3. Expanding too quickly and having patience with growth: stay true to the growth and do not be pressured to grow too quickly.  Take the time on costly mistakes to learn and you will minimize it from happening again.
  4. Surround yourself with a good team: Surround yourself with like-minded individuals that share the same vision and work toward the common goal.  Like in baseball, you have to be able to adjust to the curve ball.  Business will throw you curveballs. Make the adjustment, even if it means there may be a minor setback.

So, the story of the Moreno brothers and their salsa company serves as an inspiration for all those who dare to dream big and work hard to achieve their goals. As they continue to expand their line of fruit-inspired salsas, they remain true to their mission: to offer customers a healthy, delicious, and authentic taste of fresh fruit in every bite.


Pop Oats

The Snack That Keeps on Poppin’

A Story about the Search for Healthy Crunchy Snack.

An interview with Rodger Morris

Learn More

Rodger Morris had always been a big snacker, with a particular fondness for crunch. But as a growingly health-conscious new dad, he sadly knew that most snacks out there were anything but healthy. While he loved the healthiness of oatmeal, he often found it too limiting for an on-the-go lifestyle. From here, the idea was planted for Pop Oats – a uniquely crunchy snack, equally delicious and nutritious, and with ready-to-eat convenience that would allow oats to be enjoyed throughout the day like never before.

Lacking a formal food science background of his own, Rodger naturally turned to what first brought him to the Bay Area 15 years earlier – Berkeley. Connections there ultimately led to an introduction to a group at the USDA focused on supporting companies developing healthier food options for Americans. They loved Rodger’s idea and saw its opportunity to increase consumption of this great-for-you grain. A partnership was born between Pop Oats and the USDA that continues to this day and recently earned them a patent for their work together.

Pop Oats’ progress has been steady since those early days. They participated in a Berkeley-led startup accelerator and won its Audience Choice Award among 20 competing teams. This served as fuel to apply for and later be awarded an NIFA grant to continue their work ahead of commercialization, and formal sensory taste tests with consumers received some of the highest marks witnessed in 20+ years.

As with any new business, Pop Oats has certainly faced its challenges. The truly new nature of the product demanded developing a custom production line, an effort which was heavily complicated by the pandemic. Additionally, the environment for food testing and FDA compliance is not a cheap one, which presented a challenge for a company that was bootstrapping its capital needs. Pop Oats was fortunate to find RL Food Testing, who was nicely able to meet all their testing needs at a reasonable price. The cherry on top was getting to work with down-to-earth people that provided real advice on ways to grow not just the business, but also the relationships that underpin such success.

Through all the ups and downs, Rodger never wavered on Pop Oats’ opportunity to truly elevate oats with an intensely satisfying crunch, delightfully bold flavors, and unmatched versatility as both a standalone snack or instant dash of crunch atop salads, yogurts, soups, smoothies, ice cream, and more. Clarity gained during the pandemic gave Rodger the confidence to commit full-time, and a new partner hungrily joined him last year. The two Cal alumni proudly launched Pop Oats’ first products recently to very positive early feedback.

Rodger’s advice to new food manufacturers is simple. Get out and talk to real people beyond the cozy nest of often more eagerly supportive friends and family. And while you should certainly take everyone’s feedback to heart, for better or worse, don’t do so at the expense of leading with your own heart and intuition. You are the protagonist in your story, so keep the pencil to paper and just keep writing – it always seems impossible until it’s done. When you peel back the husk, Rodger has three simple pieces of advice for new business owners.

  1.  Stand tall – it promotes confidence and reminds you to be your own biggest believer.
  2. Breathe deeply – it promotes calm so you can be the best, most balanced version of yourself.
  3. Enjoy slowly – it promotes presence of mind and the clarity necessary to act on life’s true signals rather than simply reacting to its noise.

Rodger’s greatest joy thus far is seeing his idea grow into a real company with an absolutely new product that consumers truly love. With his passion and commitment, this oatrepreneur and his team are sure to take Pop Oats to new heights!Pop Oats is currently expanding their local presence throughout Northern California and are nicely available for all online at www.popoats.com – As a special offer for RL Food Testing Customers, you can use promo code RLFOOD to save 10% on all orders through 5/31/23.