Today we’d like to introduce you to Mauricio Robleto.
Mauricio, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
I was born in San Jose, Costa Rica. I moved to the US in 1992 with my broken English and a heart thirsty for adventure. Most people know my country for its beauty, and for sure they should but there is the day to day life of folks making it in a small economy. It is for many a dream come true to make it to an industrial advanced country like the US and find careers, best education, learn English etc, especially if your family struggles financially. It was a bit different for me, my parents fought hard for a better life and decided not to let the circumstances beat them.
I witness them building a tiny garage seasoning company making it into one of the largest spices companies in the area. By the time I moved to the US they were selling to big US Food names and even mixing the blend for the now famous Costa Rica salsa Lizano. A better life wasn’t my goal and just in my early 20’s I was still missing my place in the world. It was easy to get a degree and come back home as a “great professional” however I could foresee that was not going to do it. I did not know it at the time but I wanted to have a voice in the world, my voice.
After completing my MBA, I found myself with the dilemma to go back or stay. After a whole lot of growing up and years of denial of what I could offer the world, I decided to fight like my parents and start something that would impact people. No doubt my heart was in business – to this day Monday is still my favorite day of the week! – so after many failures and false starts, including building a yarn company from scratch!
I began to discover myself. What I saw was that what I always needed was already there and that I already had that voice, I only needed to own it. By having now absorbed deeply two cultures, I had a bigger game to play and a bigger sense of responsibility. Folks back in Costa Rica are very creative and many are fighters like my family was, it was time to reach out. See, many foods from different parts of the world, creatively made, go sometimes unnoticed. After a few trips, I now had a list of gems that were unique and awesome, and they were backed up by hard working folks. I find myself now leading a company that finds great unique world products and delivers them to those that most want them.
On our 9th year Foods From The World brings among others, delicious fruit purees and vegetables from Costa Rica and places them in restaurants and supermarkets, some have made it to large chains We carry domestic products which leaves this project now open to the world. I work with a team where some are located out state and others here around LA. We strive to grow this idea that is only getting started but it is very real. With our products supporting communities and pleasing the foodie crowd of Los Angeles.
Has it been a smooth road?
I spent almost 2 decades working hard and producing too little or nothing at times. I am not going to give you the “competition is hard or that I made big mistakes” Even though all that is true. The bigger difficulty I found is to do something without a vision or a bigger purpose.
Falls and failures will always disappoint but I learned the hard way that striving for dollar amount $ alone or living in a context that money can disappear all your problems is a lonely and numbing path. It wasn’t until about 2 years ago that I woke up and saw that each one of us has a deep impact on this planet and that thinking otherwise comes from a self-diminishing place. I saw that if you choose to own that view, inspiration comes.
I finally decided to let people in, let people contribute to my projects, I started to listen and took on an “everyone must win” approach. I realized that as much as business ideas come from me, in the end, they do not belong to me. All ideas can be shared and if you let people in them, projects grow fast. Falls and failures are less significant and the mountain climb can be really fun.
So, as you know, we’re impressed with Foods From The World – tell our readers more, for example what you’re most proud of as a company and what sets you apart from others.
I started Foods From The World with the vision of offering foods that make a difference. Not just for the end user but for everyone at all levels of the business chain. This is a process that starts from “hand picking” a potential item. I personally visit vendors, wherever they might be, and research their vision, ideals and business practices. For instance, our cultivated hearts of palm was originally created to counter the loss of forests to the growth of wild hearts of palm in Brazil.
Our gluten free blends came from a New Jersey Celiac herself who got inspired in sharing her recipes with the world. And one I will share mostly about is our puree line www.junglepulp.com – our fastest growing item – which is about “Bringing a little jungle to your life”, We do this by making purees in the tropics from real exotic fruit. We do not claim to have the perfect ingredient label always. But we make sure that what we offer is marketed appropriately for people to enjoy it and benefit from it. Our Jungle Pulp puree line comes in mango, passion fruit, guava, blackberry and strawberry. We suggest our product is used in cocktails and desserts instead of using artificial syrups overloaded with artificial ingredients.
I am quite proud of Jungle Pulp, a puree made in Costa Rica, it is authentic, it is yummy and blows people away! It was won awards and I was able to sell Bubba Gum Shrimp Co right as the product came out. They fell in love with it! Javier’s Newport Beach prides in having our puree bringing flavor to their margaritas for 8 years now. South Bay’s Pancho’s and Leo’s Mexican Food have also taken us into their margs. And every year we add new friends to the list.
Let’s touch on your thoughts about our city – what do you like the most and least?
What I like best about LA is that it holds doors to the entire world due to its ethnicity. What I like the least is the cold water of the beach!
- Jungle Pulp Mixes are available on Amazon. – 1-liter price ranges between $14 and $16 each.