Title: Harbar´s Ezequiel Montemayor Reflects on The Past, Present, and Future of the Tortilla Market
Newspaper: Modern Grocer
Date: October 2007 Vol. 85. Issue 10. Pag. 26
When Ezequiel Montemayor came to Harbar, LLC in 2004, he brought whit him a wealth of Mexican Food industry experience, both from Mexico and, since 1977, from the United States.
“That's when I started to see some interest in Mexican Food, “he recalls. “It was already kind of strong in the south and the southwest…but nothing as sophisticated as it is now.”
Montemayor, who serves as President of Harbar, notes that in the late 1970s many of the tortilla plants were privately owned. He says the industry was dominated by flour tortilla at that point.
“They had dusty flour on the surface. You would immerse the dough balls in flour. That was number one in the market,“ he says.
The first significant innovation was the die cut tortilla, which captured market share over the course of decade. Then, in 1985, a new process started to take over in the market.
“Heat-presses flour tortilla stated to completely displace the other process,” he says. “Most tortillas today are heat pressed. There is less dust, better elasticity and stretch-ability. It is higher quality product.”
Montemayor notes that all of Harbar's tortillas are heat-pressed. He says the company was started in Boston in 1986 by Heidi Maria Hartung, who began a small mom-and-pop operation when tortillas were still largely a southwest specialty. Like many other plants, the plant initially made only corn tortillas before expanding into the flour tortilla market. Today, the company's Canton, MA production facility features nothing but state-of-the-art equipment.
“Today we are a major player in the food service industry and we have made a strong effort on the retail as well,” he says, adding that the products are now available throughout New England and several mid Atlantic states. He also points to the company's Maria and Ricardo's natural and organic food brands, which Harbar introduced more than six years ago.
“We've been in natural and organic warps for several years.”
President, Harbar, LLC
“We've been in natural and organic wraps for several years, and the Maria and Ricardo market has been growing at a steady rate,” Montemayor says. “They have been becoming more and more popular.”
On the broad-line end of the business, Montemayor notes that the Company's Mayan Farm brand offers premium ethic products, including corn, flour, whole wheat and multigrain tortillas in a variety of sizes.
There is a lot more variety than Montemayor anticipated 30 years ago, and it has provided some personal surprises as well.“I never thought I was going to end up here in the New England area because it was so far away from the main tortilla market, but it was quite a delight to find this operation in Boston,” he says. “I was pleasantly surprised. I feared the cold weather, but I actually have been able to adapt to it very nicely.”