Here's What Happened To Tia Lupita Foods After Shark Tank

When you move to a different country you'd do anything for a taste of home — perhaps even start a company so others could get a taste, too. That's exactly what Hector Saldivar of Tia Lupita Foods did. Tia Lupita is Saldivar's mother, and when he moved to the U.S. from Mexico she sent care packages containing bottles of her hot sauce, quickly becoming a favorite with Saldivar's friends. He started bottling the all-natural gourmet hot sauce and Tia Lupita Foods was born, according to Tia Lupita Foods.

Pitched as a healthy Mexican food snack company, there are also tortillas and tortilla chips made from nopal cactus (also known as prickly pear cactus), salsas, and various hot sauces. Many of the products are even grain-free and gluten-free. The owner and entrepreneur — who has experience at brands like Nestle and Diamond Foods — hoped to dispel the myth that Mexican foods are unhealthy. To continue Tia Lupita's growth and to meet increasing demand, Saldivar appeared on season 14 of "Shark Tank," with a goal of securing $500,000 for 5% of the company.

Tia Lupita Foods was on track for hitting an impressive $4 million in sales in 2022

Hector Saldivar's vision for Tia Lupita is to fill the innovation gap left by Mexican brands in the U.S. At the time of filming, Tia Lupita Foods products were already being sold in grocery chains like Sprouts, Whole Foods, Target, and Publix. While each year has seen an increase in sales, the company was losing money on grocery store slotting fees, a fee grocery chains charge manufacturers to put their products on shelves. However, Tia Lupita was on track to hit $4 million in sales for 2022, which impressed the Sharks.

A bag of chips costs the company $1.50 to make and retails for around $4, which is competitive with other grain-free chip brands. To keep the company going, Saldivar put his house up as a line of credit, invested $700,000 of his own money, and raised $1.9 million from investors. The company's debt and the snack food market competition had some of the Sharks worried, so Barbara Corcoran, Mark Cuban, and Lori Greiner were out, and Daymond John cited a lack of passion for the project. Kevin O'Leary also questioned the debt, but after a bit of self-selling from Saldivar, O'Leary offered a loan of $500,000 at 12.5% interest for 10% of the company. Saldivar was worried about the 10% stake, but O'Leary didn't want his shares being diluted if Saldivar raised more money. Saldivar promised that the 5% stake won't ever be diluted, and the deal was made.

Tia Lupita Foods saw remarkable website traffic in the days after its Shark Tank appearance

Since Tia Lupita Foods' successful stint on "Shark Tank," things have been moving along swiftly, as evidenced by its super-active Instagram page. In the days after the episode aired, Tia Lupita had about 30,000 website hits, while the number steadily increased as the episode aired. On social media, Hector Saldivar expressed his gratitude to Tia Lupita's fans for believing in the brand and seemed in disbelief at the overwhelming support. In a video posted to Twitter, Saldivar said he thinks his mom is going to be "super happy ... super proud" and his father would tell him not to stop, not to get too comfortable, and to keep going.

Saldivar and Tia Lupita Foods also earned a shout-out from "Shark Tank" investor Kevin O'Leary via Twitter. O'Leary was filmed eating from a bag of the Sea Salt flavor Tia Lupita Cactus Tortilla Chips, calling them "delicious." In a behind-the-scenes video on the set of "Shark Tank" that O'Leary himself sent to the brand, he touted the whole line of Tia Lupita Foods, citing the newest trend of grain-free, healthy snacks (via Twitter).

Tia Lupita Foods has been called one of the best family-owned food brands

Tia Lupita Foods is still in business and is growing in popularity. After the episode, Kroger and Meijer picked up the Mexican snack brand and put it on shelves. You can now find the products in 5,000 stores like Walmart, Whole Foods, Safeway, Costco, and online at Amazon. If your local store is out of product, you can order from Tia Lupita's online store, where you can find all its items for sale.

Tia Lupita Foods got a nod from Buzzfeed for its natural hot sauce that doesn't contain fillers and binders. The Mexican food brand was also featured on "The Today Show" as one of the best small business brands to support for your summer cookouts in 2023 and one of the best family-owned food brands you can have delivered to your house. Tia Lupita Foods also won a Good Housekeeping 2023 Best Snack Award for its grain-free tortilla chips and salsa macha.

What's next for Tia Lupita?

The future looks bright for Tia Lupita Foods as it continues to find success. The company and its founder were accepted into PepsiCo's Greenhouse Accelerator Program for a special edition featuring Hispanic-owned companies called Juntos Crecemos (Together We Grow), per a statement from PepsiCo, Inc. Tia Lupita Foods will join nine other businesses for a six-month business mentoring program. Each company receives a $20,000 grant and short- and long-term mentorships and is eligible for an additional grant of $100,000 to encourage growth.

As for the future of Tia Lupita Foods, Hector Saldivar has visions of making the company operations more sustainable and innovative, while still remaining true to its Mexican roots, according to an interview with Food Entrepreneur. Saldivar is exploring different flours and upcycled ingredients from things like the byproducts of the beer-brewing process. By innovating Tia Lupita's products, the company can reduce its carbon footprint and save water — up to 80 or 100 gallons of water per pound of tortillas. "We feel that we are going to be the Tesla of tortillas," Saldivar shared.