Next time you happen to be in your local grocery store, don’t be surprised to see Paleteria La Michoacana (PLM) products in the freezer. You may be more familiar with the name on the package, La Indita Michoacana.
The Modesto-based maker of Hispanic-oriented ice cream and other frozen novelties is broadening its product distribution.
That announcement came after the company, started in 1991 in Turlock, California, reported stronger than expected growth for its product lines in the first half of 2011.
The growth has been attributable in part to launching new product varieties with healthier ingredients. Leading the way are the company’s new agave fruit ice popsicles. The plant, primarily from Mexico, produces several pounds of edible flower. The stalks are roasted to provide a sweet extract called aguamiel, which is similar to sugarcane without the negative health effects, says the company.
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According to Ignacio “Nacho” Gutierrez, president of PLM, “Agave pops provide all the enjoyment of water ice popsicles in various flavors, but are friendlier to people looking for great-tasting, sugar-free options.”
Another growth driver has been the company’s ability to expand the number of distributors nationwide. “We have great distributors that have helped introduce our product throughout California, the Pacific Northwest, the Intermountain West region and the Midwest,” said Patricia Gutierrez, PLM’s executive vice president.
In 2009 and 2010, the company made substantial investments to expand its operating platform to accommodate anticipated rapid growth. It expanded its production facility and logistics capabilities by building an 18,000-square-foot freezer; it grew its DSD fleet to over 50 trucks; it revamped manufacturing lines, and opened depots in new markets.
Those capital investments were aided by a $3.5 million equity investment from the Central Valley Fund, a venture capitalist firm. “Nacho and Patty have done a great job as pioneers in the fast-growing, Hispanic-oriented frozen novelty segment and have some great opportunities ahead of them,” said Jose Blanco, partner at the CMV.