people's jobs feeling suddenly less secure and retirement funds drying up, it
might be a bit much to go out to a Tex-Mex dinner that could cost $9 or more per
many people are still more than willing to shell out a couple dollars
for a jar of locally made salsa to eat at home on chips or use in
you've ever browsed the salsa aisle at a Fort Worth grocery store,
it's likely you've run across a jar of Mrs. Renfro's salsa. The
company, which was founded by George and Arthurine Renfro in their
Fort Worth home in 1940, has evolved continuously through its long
local history, and it's continuing to adapt as it adopts new
more people cooking and eating at home to save money, Renfro hasn't
been feeling the economic downturn the way some companies have, said
Doug Renfro, president of Renfro Foods Inc.
I've been telling people is it's a terrible time to sell foie gras,
but it's a great time to sell salsa," he said.
the company started, it was centered on packaged spices and pepper
sauces. It also sold syrup, jellies, preserves and hot sauce. Shortly
after being incorporated in 1972, salsa became the hot new thing -
literally - and the company grew tremendously.
still makes salsas and introduced three new ones in January:
pineapple, pomegranate and tequila. The salsa industry is
competitive, Doug Renfro said, and the company makes about 50,000
bottles to 60,000 bottles a day.
Food Stores Inc., which is headquartered in Coppell but has
supermarkets throughout the Metroplex, is one of the many places
internationally where a range of Mrs. Renfro's products are sold.
products are very good and Minyard stores have carried them for many
years," said Ron McDearmon, CEO of Minyard Food Stores. "Our
top six sellers - in order of popularity - are: Mrs. Renfro's Green
Salsa; Mrs. Renfro's Habañero Salsa; Mrs. Renfro's Roasted
Salsa; Mrs. Renfro's Mild Chow Chow; Mrs. Renfro's Salsa Picante Hot;
and Mrs. Renfro's Peach Salsa."
are only up a small amount, Doug Renfro said, but that's still hugely
positive given that the company recently has been dealing with
increasingly high prices on many of its goods.
Renfro, CEO of the company and one of George and Arthurine's sons,
said the prices for bottle caps, for instance, have gone up about 25
percent. Doug Renfro added that corn prices have gone up about 55
percent because there's now a focus on using corn-based ethanol,
tomato prices are up double-digit percentage points, and the price of
raspberries (used in Raspberry Chipotle Salsa) tripled due to a bad
seen price increases like we've never seen before," Bill Renfro
does not change its ingredients or its recipes to make up for high
prices, but Becky Renfro Borbolla, vice president (and daughter of
Bill Renfro), said the company has looked for other ways to cut
money. For example, fewer people may attend trade shows, or Renfro
may skip certain shows altogether, to save money.
Canadian trade show actually shut down [temporarily, in response to
the economy] to save the vendors money," she said.
Renfro was started when the Great Depression was still on people's
minds, the company's leaders have understood that economic changes
are inevitable. The salsa industry doesn't have tons of room for
growth, the way it did a few decades ago, but Doug Renfro said the
company still focuses on getting new customers since there is a large
degree of brand loyalty in the industry. As a result, the company
tends to take a long-term view.
not managing for the quarter or even for the year," he said.
company has not put off making necessary large-scale investments just
because of the economy, said Jack Renfro, chief operating officer
(and brother to Bill Renfro - and father to Doug Renfro).
just installed a new label machine and a new filler machine," he
company also is continuing to invest in branching out. Doug Renfro
said because ingredients are pricey, every potential new product is
tested in a spreadsheet to see if it makes economic sense, but Renfro
makes many private-label brands and is willing to expand. Areas for
potential growth include things like Indian sauces and other products
that aren't necessarily tomato and bean based, he said.
Foods still is very much a family-run business. James Renfro, vice
president of operations is the fifth Renfro currently involved in
leading the company, which has about 40 employees. Bill Renfro and
Jack Renfro are the sons of George and Arthurine Renfro, the
company's founders. Becky and James are the daughter and son of Bill,
respectively, and Doug is Jack's son. They say they're involved
because they want to be and they're willing to put in the hard work
that's still necessary
a medium-sized company. They're also there to offer the Renfro
guidance as the company continues to do more than just salsas.
you just say, 'We're a salsa maker,' you're dead in the water,"
Doug Renfro said.