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Local Snack, Soup Brands Get PepsiCo Support

FOOD PRODUCTS: Hispanic-Owned Companies Added to Accelerator

A local company that makes Mexican-inspired spicy fruit-based snacks and another that creates fresh vegetable soups packed with whole food ingredients are finding support, validation and a little extra la ayuda (assistance) through a multi-year platform developed by PepsiCo that wants to help Hispanic-owned small businesses thrive.

CHUZA Inc and I Eat My Greens, two San Diego County-headquartered food-based businesses run by natives of Mexico now living locally, were selected as two of 10 companies chosen to be part of PepsiCo’s eighth annual Greenhouse Accelerator program.

With an eye on Hispanic-owned companies for this year’s accelerator, PepsiCo is calling the program “Juntos Crecemos – Together We Grow.” Juntos Crecemos is part of the beverage mega-corp’s overall $50 million commitment aimed at providing support to Hispanic-owned small businesses — specifically, restaurants, bodegas and carnicerías.

The global snack food market was valued at just over $439 billion in 2021 and is projected to reach nearly $612 billion by 2030, with most revenue generated in the U.S. Statista reports that U.S. revenue in the snack food market will be $110 billion this year and is expected to move at a 3.78% compound annual growth rate from 2023-28.

Esperanza Teasdale
VP & GM, Hispanic Business Unit
PepsiCo Beverages North America

In showing support for startups with the accelerator program, the $86.4 billion PepsiCo – which in March reported an 8.89% increase in year over year revenue since 2022 – is providing all 10 of this year’s finalists $20,000 each in grant funding. The program from PepsiCo, which since 1965 has owned snack leaders Frito-Lay, also includes consultations and mentoring, tailored marketing support, access to capital, guidance in marketing and digital presence, and operational assistance to bring immediate and lasting improvements.

“We’re excited to continue helping to fuel the growth of these Hispanic small businesses, not only through financial support, but also by providing them access to top-of-the-line mentorship and business resources,” said Esperanza Teasdale, vice president and general manager of Hispanic Business Unit, PepsiCo Beverages North America. “Through the Greenhouse Accelerator Program: Juntos Crecemos edition, we’re committed to helping even more businesses grow faster and sustain their long-term performance.”

Snack Aisle Success

Danny Schwarz, CEO of startup CHUZA Inc, has been creating spicy snacks using natural fruit and 100% Mexican spices and no artificial colors or flavors since January 2020.

Danny Schwarz
CEO
CHUZA Inc

CHUZA, which translates to “achieve something great,” initially launched in retail stores in 2021. Seven types of the chili-infused fruit snacks – including spicy mango and spicy nopal – are currently available in 1,000 locations throughout California, including Ralphs, Whole Foods, Bristol Farms and Seaside Market.

Schwarz, a native of Monterrey, Mexico, has been living in the U.S. for 13 years. He originally moved from Mexico to New York to work for Coach International and then tequila company Proximo Spirits. He and his wife moved to Los Angeles and headed to San Diego to live with his in-laws during the COVID-19 pandemic – and they stayed.

He says he is confident his snack food offerings, initially bootstrapped and with the help of “friends, family and strangers,” are going to make it for the long haul, and that PepsiCo’s support will be crucial for CHUZA’s expansion and growth.

“It’s a six-month program where we will be able to work with the best-in-class people from the PepsiCo,” Schwarz said. “As a founder, I’m a generalist but working with Pepsi will let us work with specialists. It’s a great opportunity for us to learn from the best in the industry. It’s also a boost in our confidence where the owners of Frito-Lay say, ‘We want to help CHUZA accelerate their business.’”

CHUZA recently won a partnership opportunity with 7-Eleven Inc. starting in September as part of the convenience giant’s fourth annual “Brands With Heart” program. The program will allow CHUZA to sell products at 7-Eleven stores across the state.

“We’ll continue to innovate and grow with our current retailers and look to gain distribution throughout California and in other states,” Schwarz said.

Serving Soup Nationally

Born in Mexico City, and a former member of the country’s Olympics sailing team that competed in 2000, Manuel “Mac” Villarreal is founder and CEO of I Eat My Greens, maker since 2020 of six different kinds of chef-crafted soups — from carrot sweet potato with turmeric to black bean chipotle with cacao – called the Juntos Crecemos an “amazing opportunity” and that it is “a true reflection of our dedication in making a difference in the food industry with our tasty and nourishing soups.”

Manuel Villarreal
CEO
I Eat My Greens

Villarreal said the bootstrapped company’s growth this year “has been 10 times what it was in 2022,” and said its most recent crowning achievement was being able to have I Eat My Greens sold in 400 Sprouts across the country, including more than 130 in California. The soups are also sold locally at Jimbo’s.

He said he hoped to use the PepsiCo accelerator as a way to better get its name into the mainstream so people can hear the brand’s story.

“When I think of Pepsi I think of marketing,” he said. “The way position brands itself, how it works with celebrities and people around the world, that’s what I want to learn. I want to gain knowledge and be educated on the structure of how a company works, how marketing can be applied. With marketing comes branding and we can learn, ‘How does a well-planned marketing campaign department work?’”

In November, at the end of the Greenhouse Accelerator program, one company will be awarded $100,000 to help it expand and an opportunity to continue working with PepsiCo.

CHUZA Inc

FOUNDED: 2020
FOUNDER AND CEO: Danny Schwarz
HEADQUARTERS: San Diego
BUSINESS: Consumer packaged goods
EMPLOYEES: 2 FT, 3 PT
WEBSITE: chuza.com
CONTACT: @chuzasnacks
SOCIAL IMPACT: Works with minority-owned businesses, including co-packers.
NOTABLE: Actress Eva Longoria is a fan of Chuza, happened organically, posted it on IG.

I Eat My Greens

FOUNDED: 2020
FOUNDER & CEO: Manuel “Mac” Villarreal
HEADQUARTERS: San Diego
BUSINESS: Consumer packaged goods
EMPLOYEES: 5
WEBSITE: ieatmygreens.com
CONTACT: hello@ieatmygreens.com @ieat.mygreens
SOCIAL IMPACT: I Eat My Greens works directly with smaller family farms that use regenerative farming methods and educate them about nutrition
NOTABLE: Mac Villarreal was a member of Mexico’s 2000 Olympics sailing team.

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