News sells nostalgia, Mexican style by Michael Goodwin | Yahoo! Small Business Advisor – Wed, Jun 18, 2014

Ignacio Hernandez Jr. (affectionately known as "Nacho" to his friends and associates) has Mexican food in his DNA.Nearly 100 years ago, Nacho's great grandfather, Don Ignacio Hernandez Del Castillo, started the family business, Herdez, which grew to become the leading food processor in Mexico with brands such as Herdez, Doña Maria, Bufalo and a partnership with McCormick. ("Well, we always had food in the pantry for sure!" Nacho laughs.)In 2000, Nacho—now an internationally respected ecommerce guru and a fourth-generation food vendor—partnered with his father to take the family business online. The father-son team started the San Diego-based, currently the world's largest online grocery store for authentic, hard-to-find Mexican food, household products, cookbooks, religious goods, and jewelry from Mexico.Among other things, it's a classic Yahoo Store success story.

No is a bilingual site that offers more than 2,500 Mexican products from leading imported and national food brands. With over 200,000 customers, it ships to 15,000 cities in 50 states of the U.S. Nacho, co-founder and Senior Vice President of MexGrocer, brings his international e-commerce experience to the family team. He's also a regular speaker at Search Engine Strategies Conference & Expo, and a Search Engine Marketing and Internet Strategy consultant for many Hispanic businesses.Back in 1999, while studying for his MBA at IPADE business school, Nacho spent a summer interning at a Swiss ecommerce company called LeShop. "It was an amazing learning experience for me," he remembers, "to be working in an online grocery store. It wasn't at all theoretical."In his second year of the MBA program Nacho leveraged what he had learned in Switzerland and partnered with his father to start MexGrocer. "We worked on the business plan together," he says, "and while I was finishing my MBA in Mexico he was in the U.S. preparing relationships with a distributor to setup the supply and logistics part of the business. We partnered with a shipping carrier to do all the fulfillment. We couldn't afford to buy WebVan’s expensive delivery trucks. Those things cost $150,000 each! No drones either."In fact, MexGrocer's start-up was as frugal as the Hernandez' could make it. There were only three employees: Hernandez Sr., Hernandez Jr., and an office manager. Nacho focused on web site design, marketing, and customer service.

We Sell NostalgiaThey must have been doing something right, because by 2005 MexGrocer was in the black. Selling the right products helped a lot."For the most part," Nacho says, "we sell nostalgia. Imagine a Hispanic or even a non-Hispanic customer that became familiar with a product when he or she was living in Texas or California, or maybe when she traveled to Mexico, and now she's living in a remote location where the supermarket just doesn't carry this stuff. When she looks at the site she goes, 'Wow! Finally I know where I can get this.'"Nostalgic or not, the product listings on the MexGrocer site are muy enciclopédico. Mexican candy, hot sauce, mole, chile peppers, rice, beans, herbs, spices, tortillas, tamales, cheese, bread, chips, cooking utensils, home remedies, jewelry… "For Mexican food items we have the largest assortment of products in the world," Nacho boasts. "We carry over 2500 different SKUs, and we're adding new ones every year."Not all of MexGrocer's products are imported. "There's a lot of well-established Mexican food brands that are produced and distributed in the U.S.," Nacho explains. "Good examples of that would be Juanita's Foods and Pico Pica Hot Sauce. But we identify the authentic Mexican food brands."By 2010 MexGrocer had become the biggest online site for Mexican food products in the world. "Even compared to the Amazon marketplace we're still the largest player," says Nacho. "The hardest part is sourcing the products. Sometimes these items become hard to find even from the largest distributors. We have to bring many of the authentic brands from Mexico so it becomes quite hard logistically. Still, we try to maintain a good stock of everything."

Put Everything Into YahooEvery start-up makes a few mistakes. One of the biggest mistakes Nacho made was not starting out on the Yahoo platform. That was a mistake he corrected in a hurry."Our first attempts to build an ecommerce platform were completely custom-designed," he explains. "We thought we knew what we were doing. But the site was full of bugs, and there were constant challenges. It would go down all the time…and in the end it just cost too much money to maintain."Then a friend of mine, who had been very successful in ecommerce, told me, 'Well, why don't you go on the Yahoo Store platform? It only costs a few dollars a month, and it's much more stable…'"It was love at first site. Or second site. In any case, starting from there MexGrocer began building and rebuilding and improving itself on the Yahoo Store platform. "It's been a constant for us for over 13 years," Nacho says. "We're extremely happy with Yahoo. It has the flexibility for us to do everything we want, and at the same time it has the most powerful back-end infrastructure so we don't need to rely on our own servers, or worry about maintenance."

Survival BusinessThe acid test came in 2010, when there was a concerted online attack on the MexGrocer site. "If not for Yahoo's backing we would not have survived," says Nacho. "The attackers could have taken our business down for many, many days and it would have been impossible to recover from that loss. Yahoo had us back up in a matter of hours. Something like that is invaluable. Yahoo has been a great partner."The other fine thing about Yahoo, Nacho points out, is its cloud of consultants."Most of the site's design has been influenced by me," he says, "because I really like doing it, but I don't do anything on the programming side. That's one of the really nice things about the Yahoo Store, it's got a network of developers—and we've worked with almost all of them. One is focused on MyAccount so customers can log in. Another partner specializes on product search. We have another partner that helps us with our marketing feeds. And all these partners come together through Yahoo Store, which is a really great thing about Yahoo. You're not limited to working with just one developer group."

Not Just Taco Shells and Shredded BeefThe three best-selling categories on MexGrocer are hot sauces, salsa, and Mexican candy. In the candy department, you can satisfy your sweet tooth on everything from chocolate to spicy lollipops. Nacho's favorite treat is chocolate-covered mazapan. (North Americans call it marzipan.) "Mazapan is quite traditional," he laughs, "and has been popular for many years, but they just came up with a chocolate-covered version that I like very much."MexGrocer has been so successful selling Mexican products to Hispanic customers, that Nacho and his father have been thinking about adding new categories. "I'm not sure if that will be with or a new brand," Nacho says, "but it's a natural flow. We've looked into adding more gourmet items. Mexican food is not just taco shells and shredded beef, it's authentic dishes and great cooking. People might want to try cooking with corn truffles, or fish seasoned with pasilla paste for the famous recipes “a la talla” or “a la Veracruzana”… We've tried selling religious items too, and those do well, especially with Hispanics. We've even tried to sell gold and silver from Mexico. But that's a difficult one, and then you have to ask yourself if you're a grocery store or a jewelry store."Either way, after almost 100 years, Ignacio Hernandez Jr. is proud to be bringing the family business into its second century.'s fresh new website look for Mexican food lovers

San Diego, CA April 6, 2009 --, the nation's leading online grocery store for authentic Mexican food products and ingredients is ready for the Fun of Mexico's Cinco de Mayo. is the place to order your culturally correct a la Mexicana food, cooking needs and ingredients, beverages, and fiesta favorites.

With a fresh new website look, San Diego, California based has a wide variety of Mexican food, spices, cooking utensils, cookbooks and many other popular products ready for immediate shipment, and we look forward to celebrating not only Cinco de Mayo with you, but every day of the year. has been serving Mexican food lovers, cooks at home and small restaurant chefs for the past nine years, customers who live throughout the continental United States as well as in Alaska, Hawaii and Puerto Rico. Members of the U.S. armed forces are connoisseurs of fine Mexican food, and orders are sent daily to bases at home and Military Post Offices abroad. As well, the number of customers in Canada is growing. - SAP News - Online Grocer Supports Rapid Business Growth with SAP Business One

COMIDA NEWS - Comida Latina NewsBytes - Industry Expert Insights
February 7, 2007 by Sarah Russell - Editor Comida News

Ignacio Hernandez:
We asked Ignacio Hernandez, President and Founder of, to share some of his expertise from operating the leading online portal for Mexican products in the U.S. was founded in 2000 as a nationwide bilingual online grocery store for over 1,200 specialty non-perishable authentic Mexican food, household products, cooking tips, Mexican recipes and Mexican cookbooks. It serves as the leading online resource for consumers, Mexican chefs, Mexican restaurants and medium size Mexican grocery stores for Mexican products, tips and recipes.

What motivated you to start
Initially we wanted to serve the Hispanic Market for hard-to-find, authentic Mexican food products not readily available on supermarket shelves. Since 2000, however, we have grown to include in our customer base all Americans as Mexican and Hispanic foods have become increasingly mainstream.

What has been the company's most important achievement so far?
We have been in business for just over 6 years and have already sold directly to over 60,000 customers (consumers) nationwide, including chefs and independent Mexican restaurants. We see this as excellent progress.

What are the hottest selling categories on
Cooking utensils (molcajete, tortilla press, tamale steamers, comal, etc). Also, gift packs where, with a single click, you can purchase a package that includes everything you need to make tamales, tortillas, or an assortment of imported hot sauces, salsas, etc.

Please highlight the trends you see in the Hispanic food & beverage industry.
The leading trends we see are a growth toward all-natural products, authentic food brands, and prepared wholesome meals. Trends come from restaurants, and as more and more authentic Mexican recipes and foods are seen, served and consumed, those foods earn credibility with the anglo market as well, propelling national growth.

What is your advice to manufacturers and distributors of foods about how to break into the US food market?
1) An online store is a business without borders and you can reach the consumer directly, 2) take advantage of the US Hispanic purchasing power and 3) look at niche markets. has excelled and will continue to excel while it efficiently and effectively provides its customers with what they are looking for - Mexican products online.

Entrevista a Ignacio Hernandez en la Revista Entrepreneur en Espanol Abril 2006 -

Un Mercado Inagotable por Doris Gómora

Éste es muy grande y nuestros compatriotas esperan novedades que los ayuden a matar la nostalgia de su país. Aprenda en cabeza ajena, ¡aproveche!

Un emprendedor que se mantiene en la curva ascendente en el mercado hispano, habla una vez más desde su experiencia sobre esta boyante plaza para recordar que aún ofrece oportunidades a quien tenga el buen tino de aprovecharlo.

La razón principal de este auge es que la nostalgia de los millones de mexicanos que decidieron cruzar la frontera para trabajar en Esta- dos Unidos, hace que las ganancias en la comercialización de comida mexicana, los re-frescos y los dulces, se mantengan en permanente aumento.

Desde el año 2000, de quien ya publicamos su historia emprendedora, le pone el sabor sabroso y picante a las comidas de los mexicanos que viven en Estados Unidos, con productos que los confortan en su nostalgia y tradiciones.

Su presidente, Ignacio Hernández, es uno de los empresarios mexicanos que en los últimos cinco años ha encontrado en el mercado hispano de ese país --conformado por 30 millones de mexicanos, con un poder adquisitivo igual o mayor al de todo México-- a sus principales clientes, distribuyendo productos a cualquier ciudad de ese país e incluso a los soldados hispanos que se encuentran en los portaviones del ejército estadounidense o en Irak. La firma también envía productos mexicanos a países como Japón y Alemania, entre otros destinos.

"El mercado estadounidense ofrece muchas oportunidades aunque es más competido; pero si el emprendedor mexicano se especializa en satisfacer alguna necesidad de los consumidores de origen mexicano, la oportunidad se potencializa", asegura Hernández, cuya tienda actualmente es líder en la venta de abarrotes a través de Internet y ofrece más de mil artículos tanto importados de México como de marcas locales de empresarios mexicanos radicados en Estados Unidos.

Un suculento país imaginario

Esa población, dice el emprendedor, es un seguro de crecimiento para cualquier empresa mexicana en Estados Unidos, donde se utiliza el término "Mexamerica", que define un país imaginario donde viven 137 millones de habitantes de origen mexicano: 107 millones del lado de México y 30 millones en territorio estadounidense con una misma cultura, tradiciones y hábitos de consumo.

"No se necesita acudir al Tratado de Libre Comercio para encontrar ventajas para los negocios. Estados Unidos abre las puertas para los micro, pequeños y medianos empresarios que deseen operar allá", agrega. Lo difícil, expresa, siempre será la situación migratoria, "pero con buenos asesores seguro conseguirá la visa apropiada o estatus legal necesario para hacer negocios", anota Hernández.

El empresario asegura que se requiere menos dinero que en México para que un micro, pequeño o mediano empresario inicie un negocio en el vecino del norte debido a las facilidades que se le otorgan, por lo que los proyectos se implementan más fácilmente. Es decir, si alguna persona desea emprender, queda exento de impuestos hasta que comienza a tener ganancias y se le otorga financiamiento sin solicitar tantos avales, además de poder obtener una visa de trabajo de forma muy rápida, entre otros.

"Además, ahora Internet brinda muchas oportunidades para los pequeños emprendedores mexicanos debido a que no requieren una dirección física, sino que pueden operar con una tienda virtual que esté optimizada profesionalmente para atraer tráfico. Actualmente, tiene más de 250 mil visitantes al mes", dice Hernández.

Y claro está, "si alguien tiene un negocio establecido en México, seguramente le dará más credibilidad a su proyecto en Estados Unidos", afirma Ignacio Hernández. A cinco años de iniciar su empresa, el emprendedor ya integró nuevos productos como artesanías, libros en español, música mexicana, joyería, muebles, entre otras novedades.

"Hay muchos productos mexicanos únicos y novedosos con mercado potencial; ofrece el apoyo para los primeros pasos".

Otros casos
Como él, otros emprendedores mexicanos han incursionado en Estados Unidos con éxito. Por ejemplo, Gustavo Márquez con Marquez Brother o Adolfo Vega con La Bodega, quienes también distribuyen productos mexicanos en Estados Unidos.
Por su parte, Ralph Rubio es fundador de la cadena de Restaurantes Rubios Baja Grill en California, o María Sobrino, conocida en Estados Unidos como "la reina de las gelatinas", con su marca Lulu's Desserts.

Para emprender en EU

Algunos de los pasos generales y etapas necesarias para emprender en Estados Unidos, son:
* Inicialmente buscar vender a importadores o distribuidores exclusivos regionalmente.
Posteriormente abrir una bodega pública en el mercado principal del lado de Estados Unidos.
* Contratar a brokers o representantes de ventas a comisión, surtiendo el producto de la bodega que ya tiene la mercancía del lado estadounidense.
* Uno de los secretos del éxito del lanzamiento de nuevos productos es tener inventario en Estados Unidos, pero no en bodegas propias, sino rentando espacios públicos que almacenan mercancía de terceros.
* Formar una empresa del lado de Estados Unidos para que facture de este lado y sea la que da el servicio, ya que cuando los estadounidenses ven que el proveedor está en otro país, no les da confianza comprar. an innovator in retailing Mexican foods

by Innovation Mexico - September 2004

Mexican Food is distinguished by its diversity of flavors, range of exotic fruits and vegetables, and distinctive cuisine. Until recently, specialty foods such as cajeta, a popular Mexican caramel sauce from goat’s milk, or the naturally sweet and sour tamarind paste used in such drinks as daiquiris and smoothies or in sauces for chicken, pork, or seafood, or huitlacoche (a wild mushroom fungus that grows in sweet corn commonly known as the Mexican truffle or Mexican caviar and used in crepes or soups), were impossible to purchase if you lived in rural US communities or served in the Armed Forces and stationed abroad. That has changed due to the innovative on-line retailer,

Launched September 15, 2000 by Ignacio Hernandez and his son, Ignacio Hernandez Jr., is the largest online grocery store for hard-to-find non-perishable authentic Mexican food, cooking utensils, cookbooks and cultural items. Not long ago, a number of online grocers were sprouting everywhere, but most shuttered within a few years after losing millions of dollars on inventories, warehouses, delivery truck fleets, and large support staffs.What sets apart from the rest is threefold: (1) they do not provide all products; (2) they do not undertake all aspects of production; and (3) they maximize their presence on the Internet.

According to the senior Mr. Hernández, an executive with more than 30 years experience in the Mexican foods sector, other online grocers “made the mistake of offering everything a brick-and-mortar supermarket has", including perishables. By contrast, targets a growing niche market of Mexican food gourmands, and offers only shelf-stable goods. fills a unique niche to both the 43.5 million Hispanics in the US (29 million Mexican Americans) and the ever-increasing number of Anglo Americans in the US who crave and enjoy Mexican foods. Surprisingly, two-thirds of orders to are placed by Anglo-Americans. “We especially do well with people who once lived on the West Coast but moved to Ohio or Vermont and couldn’t find authentic Mexican food brands,” said Hernández. Currently, they sell over 1,000 items of imported and national leading brands such as Herdez, Doña María, and Búfalo through a bilingual website.

At the distribution end, partners with Royal Crown Enterprises located in the City of Industry, California, as their supplier and distributor. Shipping is handled by UPS. Consequently, they operate efficiently without a massive infrastructure. At present, their reach extends into more than 7,000 US cities in all 50 states. Of the top 15 markets, seventh on the list is APO/FPO (military). It is not unusual for a soldier in Iraq to place an order for non-perishable authentic Mexican food from home.

But perhaps even more importantly, the founders of have learned the importance of search engine maximization. The difference between a physical supermarket and one online is that the first has one or perhaps two points of entry, while the online store has thousands. The key is to keep the business before customers no matter how they come into the site whether by asking for the site by name, product, or recipe. Through “click trails” they can literally follow a customer as they navigate the site and learn where they go, how long they stay at each section, and what they buy. Consequently, they know far more about their customer’s preferences than a traditional supermarket can learn from purchases at the check-out counter, and are able to adjust their offerings accordingly.

They also have the largest Internet exposure for Mexican food keywords through search engine visibility and link popularity (Google, Yahoo, MSN, AOL, and the like) that bring direct traffic to In addition, they gain exposure on a network of partnered sites such as’s Gourmet Food store. Their intelligent placement on the Internet has made them a role model written about in the August 2004 issue of Entrepreneur Magazine (“In the Click”) and in a recent book by Robin Miller, “The Online Rules of Successful Companies” (2003 Prentice Hall).

Within four years, has become the established market leader and an example of successful online retailing. The future looks promising for a company facing a growing demographic. literally brings the best of shelf-stable Mexican food products to the world, and in so doing, broadens the market for not only established brands, but also new products benefiting from advances in packaging as reported in this issue of Innovation Mexico.

Innovation Mexico is a binational collaboration program on Technological Innovation, that is part of CONACYT, the Mexican National Council of Science and Technology, an agency of the government of Mexico.

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Online grocer clicks where others failed by Frank Green - The San Diego Union-Tribune - January 16, 2004

When Ignacio Hernandez decided to open an online grocery business four years ago, conditions in the industry were hardly bueno.

Companies such as Webvan and were heading toward the checkout lane after losing millions of dollars on massive infrastructure costs for huge warehouses, delivery truck fleets and large support staffs.

Webvan alone had spent about $830 million dollars over several years in its unsuccessful attempt to establish a home-delivery service in major U.S. cities.

"They made the mistake of offering everything a brick-and-mortar supermarket has," including perishables, said Hernandez, a veteran executive with more than 30 years experience in the Mexican foods sector.

But Hernandez, in creating, decided to take a different path to entice food shoppers to part with the cart.

Like, and other booming e-commerce stores, the La Jolla-based company targets a growing niche market of Mexican food gourmands, offers only shelf-stable goods and leaves the driving to UPS.

The concept has attracted 25,000 customers who regularly belly up to the computer to order corn husks, rice flour, mole, menudo and 1,000 other Mexican food products.

And anyone for cajeta, a popular Mexican caramel sauce derived from goat's milk that typically is tough to find in mainstream U.S. supermarkets?

"We especially do well with people who once lived on the West Coast but moved to Ohio or Vermont and couldn't find authentic Mexican food brands," Hernandez said. and other online grocers are benefitting from an increase in the number of shoppers willing to pay more in shipping expenses and other costs to save time and get gastronomical delights delivered to their door.
Indeed, cyberspace grocery sales are expected to reach $8.8 billion in the United States this year, up from $200 million five years ago but still a small slice of the total $400 billion U.S. grocery sector.

Those online numbers include estimated revenue for such major brick-and-mortar chains as Albertsons, Safeway and Stater Brothers, which have profited by using their stores as veritable warehouses to fulfill Internet orders.

Stater Brothers, for instance, contracts with an independent company,, whose workers pluck the goods off store shelves before delivering them to the front porch.

But analysts who were early critics of Webvan and other now-defunct, Internet-only supermarkets said a big market has emerged for much smaller grocers who can keep a tight hold on costs and who tailor their selection to items not readily available in mainstream stores.

"More and more people want convenience, and they are finding many niche grocery businesses they like" on their computers, said George Whalin, president of Retail Management Consultants.

Never mind that most consumers who patronize such Web sites will have to do supplementary shopping elsewhere for produce, dairy products and other fresh goods.

MexGrocer, for one, said its business jumped last year by 55 percent compared with 2002.Part of the boom can be explained by the surging popularity of Mexican food delicacies outside of the Latino demographic.

The total Mexican food market in the United States was valued at $18.3 billion in 2002, according to the research group Datamonitor.

Indeed, MexGrocer originally expected that most of its customers would be second-generation Mexican-Americans who wanted the same processed goods found in a typical Mexico City supermart.

But about two-thirds of orders to MexGrocer are placed by Anglo-Americans, Hernandez estimated.

"We deliver to 4,600 (American) cities to all types of customers," he said.

MexGrocer keeps costs low partly by aligning with a City of Industry distributor, Royal Crown Foods, which ships its orders.

It also curbs expenses by maintaining low inventories of some less-popular spices and Mexican candiesy – sometimes as little as two cases per item.

Hernandez, who declined to divulge revenue for the privately held company, estimated MexGrocer's average order at between $35 and $50, which is typical for successful firms in the industry.

The idea for MexGrocer came when Ignacio Hernandez and his son, Ignacio Jr., were mulling ideas for an online business. It was quickly decided that groceries were the natural pursuit.

Hernandez was a former senior executive and member of the founding family of Herdez, the leading food processor in Mexico with brands such as Dona Maria, Bufalo and McCormick.

He founded and managed Herdez' U.S. division, before establishing the Del Fuerte and La Gloria brands in Mexico and the La Victoria and Embasa brands in the United States.

MexGrocer recently signed an agreement with to be included with other cyberspace supermarkets on the online giant's Gourmet Food store. The company's service can also be accessed through

Besides food, MexGrocer's Web site – which scores about 180,000 unique visitors per month, Hernandez said – has expanded to include such products as cookbooks, religious items, and household products such as tortilla presses and cast iron pans.

One of the major attractions of the Web address is the availability of dozens of free recipes for such entrees as Vera Cruz fish tostadas, tortilla manicotti and eggs motulenos.

"We're trying to create a community" of Mexican food adherents, Hernandez said.

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Online Mexican Grocery Service Proves That Salsa Is Much More Popular Than Ketchup

San Diego, CA, September 16, 2003 (PR Web)--September 16 is Mexican Independence Day and Ignacio Hernandez and Son, founders of have a lot to celebrate. Three years ago, the largest online authentic Mexican food store was launched on Mexican Independence Day and today ranks as the leading online Mexican grocery store in the U.S. “We are the experts in Mexican food cooking and Mexican recipes,” Hernandez says, President of adding “Today we have serviced over 4,500 cities in all 50 states in the U.S. including Hawaii and Alaska.” The success of this San Diego, California-based company lies in Hernandez’s 30 years experience in the Mexican food industry and in family tradition going back four generations. Popular brands such as Herdez, Dona Maria, La Victoria, and Embasa were either founded or managed by this successful family.

If frequent trips to Mexico do not fit into your busy schedule, is the next best thing. The Hernandez family will take you inside the kitchens and more importantly the pantries of the best and finest in Mexican cuisine. This valuable resource gives you access to unique but essential cooking products while providing you with experienced culinary instruction without having to navigate through smoky kitchens, taco stands, or travel off the beaten path.

Pinpointing tasty salsas or choosing from the remaining 800 plus items offers is an easy and cost-efficient process. Through a partnership with Royal Crown Foods, one of the largest Mexican food distributors in the U.S., items are available and ready for delivery anywhere in the United States. Typically, specialty markets stock 200 items at best. And while you’re at it, is a bilingual site so if you would like to brush up on your Spanish or practice your English, there are many pictures to assist you. Remember that Christopher Columbus not only discovered America but showed off the chile pepper to his friends. brings authentic Mexican food to your home. is the leading online Mexican grocery store in the U.S. headquartered in San Diego, CA. Founders are Ignacio Hernandez & Ignacio Hernandez, Jr. with over 22,000 customers nationwide. is celebrating their three year anniversary today, September 16, 2003.

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Comen mole y tamales en Iraq

REFORMA - MEXICO por Doris Gómora (04 Agosto 2004).

En territorio iraquí, a miles de kilómetros de su tierra, los soldados de origen mexicano del ejército estadounidense no dejan de comer tortillas, salsas, tamales, y mole.

En la guerra todo se vale, y por ello los chefs militares tratan de mantener a gusto a los soldados, y les preparan platillos que sean de su agrado y les recuerden sus costumbres.

Para ello solicitan, vía internet, productos típicos mexicanos y, como en la guerra, hay que ser agresivo, por lo que el empresario mexicano Ignacio Hernández saca jugo a la estancia de sus paisanos en el frente para hacer negocio.

Así, Hernández, mexicano radicado en EU, exporta productos alimenticios tradicionales mexicanos, a Iraq y a todo el mundo, a través del sitio de internet, donde recibe pedidos de alimentos típicos mexicanos y los surte a cualquier parte del mundo a través de mensajería.

"En un portaaviones (en el Golfo Pérsico) iban a celebrar el 5 de mayo. El chef, de origen mexicano, quería hacer tamales para 500 personas y nos escribió por internet para pedirnos los ingredientes. "Le enviamos harina Maseca, hojas de maíz, salsas y chiles secos. Fue una experiencia interesante", expresó en entrevista telefónica desde San Diego., asociado con Royal Crown Foods, tiene un catálogo de más de mil 100 productos mexicanos de 100 marcas distintas, con los cuales atiende, vía mensajería, a sus 27 mil clientes registrados en 7 mil puntos de Estados Unidos.

Así, un refresco Jarritos, un frasco de mole Doña María, unas tortillas Maseca y hasta un Molcajete han llegado a Alaska y otros puntos de la Unión Americana.

El origen de la empresa, relató Hernández, se originó con la experiencia de su padre en la empresa de conservas Herdez, en México, y en la nostalgia que él siente por la comida mexicana. Así, junto con su hijo fundaron, donde aplican las nuevas tecnologías, carrera que estudió el menor de los Hernández.

Con 4 años en el mercado, ocupa el quinto lugar entre 6 mil sitios en internet que venden comida en Estados Unidos, donde hay 43.5 millones de hispanos, de los cuales 29.5 millones son mexicanos.

De esa cifra, 14 millones son usuarios de internet y el mercado de comida mexicana en EU está calculado en 18 mil millones de dólares.

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La virtud de aprender de la experiencia ajena

El mal ejemplo de la desaparecida empresa Webvan sirvió para que MexGrocer no cometiera los mismos errores en la venta de productos de abarrotes por internet. Por Karla Wucuan Ochoa, reportera de La Opinion.

La Opinion - Los Angeles, California a Lunes, 02 de agosto de 2004

Hace cuatro años, cuando todos parecían abandonar el negocio de venta de alimentos a través de la internet, una industria que aparentemente había nacido sin estrella, los Ignacio Hernández —padre e hijo— vieron la oportunidad de establecerse en el mercado.

Con el modelo que llevó al fracaso a empresas como Webvan como un ejemplo a no seguir, MexGrocer, la compañía que Hernández Jr. y su padre crearon en el año 2000, uniendo la experiencia del primero en el campo del uso de la informática y del segundo en la comercialización de productos de abarrotes de origen mexicano, cuenta ya con más de dos millones de visitantes al año en busca de sus productos, que van desde salsas, refrescos hasta los muy típicos molcajetes. De hecho la compañía ha logrado incrementar a más de 100 el número de marcas de productos que maneja., una compañía que nació como una de las más prometedoras en ventas de productos de abarrotes a través de la internet con entrega casi inmediata a domicilio, se derrumbó en 2001 tras por haber invertido cerca de 830 millones de dólares en costosa infraestructura para inmensos almacenes y numerosa flota de camiones.Los Hernández, en cambio, apostaron a buscar socios claves y a establecer un ritmo de crecimiento lento pero constante, conforme a la necesidad del consumidor.“Ellos [Webvan] cometieron el error de querer hacer todo”, sostiene Ignacio Hernández Jr. en su oficina en La Jolla, California. Webvan, agrega el joven, invirtió desproporcionadamente en múltiples bodegas y camiones de entrega sin antes estudiar el mercado y medir los riesgos que implica la industria.“Nosotros teníamos que ser cautelosos y buscar el mejor camino para que funcionara este negocio”, cuenta Hernández Jr.

Los Hernández explican que, diferencia de otras grandes compañías, ellos tuvieron que buscar inversionistas por no contar con un fuerte capital inicial.Con la sociedad de Royal Crown Foods, la distribuidora líder de productos mexicanos, y la contratación con United Parcel Service of America Inc (UPS), los Hernández evitaron tener que invertir millones de dólares para rentar bodegas, comprar camiones e inyectar su inversión inicial de 400 mil dólares para costos de administración.En cambio, mientras los clientes hacen sus pedidos a través de su página de internet o llaman por teléfono directamente a la compañía, Royal Crown Food se encarga de almacenar la mercancía en su bodega en City of Industry, desde donde se surte directamente las órdenes a los clientes a través del servicio de UPS.

El crecimiento de MexGrocer se ha visto favorecido por los datos del censo, que indican que no sólo el número de latinos residentes en este país va en aumento, sino también la cantidad de personas que gustan de los productos mexicanos.

Sólo en 2002 el gasto en el mercado de comida mexicana en Estados Unidos alcanzó 18.3 millones de dólares, según el grupo de investigación Datamonitor.Pero a pesar de que la comida mexicana tiene cada vez más demanda, no ocurre lo mismo con los porcentajes de las compras de abarrotes por internet.

Patti Freeman Evans, analista de la firma de investigación Jupiter Research, explica que a pesar del constante aumento del uso de internet para comprar abarrotes, esta práctica nunca superará a la costumbre de surtir la despensa de la casa directamente desde el supermercado.Esto es, dice Freeman, porque aunque se pronostica que las compras de abarrotes por internet llegarán a 2,400 millones de dólares para este año, su representación sigue siendo baja, con sólo el 0.4% de las ventas totales anuales.

“No hay duda de que hay un crecimiento y que esta industria está empezando a recuperarse de la caída que tuvo en el pasado [ejemplo Webvan], pero los estudios demuestran que los consumidores todavía prefieren ir al supermercado directamente a escoger sus productos”, agrega la experta, refiriéndose al grueso del mercado.Algunas cadenas de supermercados tradicionales también ofrecen a sus clientes la opción de comprar sus productos por internet, pero los Hernández sostienen que no tratan de competir con ellas dado que su negocio fue creado para proporcionar un servicio a clientes que viven en lugares lejanos y buscan productos mexicanos.“Creemos que nuestro servicio es muy cómodo, seguro y rápido porque con sólo una computadora y una tarjeta de crédito, en 24 horas pueden recibir su mercancía en la puerta de su casa”, dice Hernández Jr., de 30 años de edad.

Según Kenneth K. Boyer, autor del libro Extending the Supply Chain (Extendiendo la cadena del suministro) y del estudio Internet Grocery, el promedio de tiempo que invierten las personas que compran por primera por internet en hacer su compra es de 66 minutos y después de hacerlo más de siete veces lo reducen a 25.9 minutos.“En ese tiempo podrían ir y regresar del supermercado, ¿dónde está el ahorro?”, expresó Boyer, también catedrático de la Universidad del Estado de Michigan.

Pero con todo y los cierres de las compañías que le apostaron al ciberespacio y fracasaron en el pasado, los Hernandez están convencidos de que con su modelo de empresa MexGorcer seguirá creciendo, ya que sus productos son para un mercado en expansión.Como estrategia de publicidad MexGrocer está en buscadores como Google y en páginas de internet como Terra y Amazon.“No estamos aquí sólo para ofrecer un servicio, queremos ser un puente entre México y los clientes que están frente a la computadora, ordenando”, concluyó Ignacio Hernández Jr.

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