Having established one of Europe's first authentic tortillerias and sold over 15 million corn tortillas to restaurants like Wahaca, founder Phil Martin is now taking the next step. The Blanco Niño team are planning to manufacture and launch their premium corn tortilla chips into supermarkets across Europe this year.
So Phil, what inspired you to start up Blanco Niño?
When setting up the Little Ass Burrito Bar, a Mexican casual dining restaurant in the heart of Dublin, I couldn’t find authentic corn tortillas anywhere in Europe, the essential ingredient to real tacos. I decided to travel to Mexico to visit the milpas, molinos, and tortillerias, and learnt how to make proper corn tortillas like the ones found in the street markets of Oaxaca and Mexico City.
After launching our first successful crowdfunding campaign in 2014, we opened the Blanco Niño tortilleria in 2016.
What are your proudest achievements since founding the business?
After the years of working towards the launch of the tortilleria, tasting the very first tortilla off the production line in our Clonmel based tortilleria meant a lot to me.
Seeing the business being recognised and awarded for excellence by our peers was amazing. Winning ‘Best New Idea’ at the Ireland Best Young Entrepreneur national final in 2014, followed by winning ‘Best Start-Up’ at the Ireland Best Young Entrepreneur Regional Final 2015 was a great way to start the business. Most recently, we received two silver awards at the Irish Food & Drink Awards 2018, and won the Best Food Company at the County Tipperary Awards the same year. It can be easy to forget how far we’ve come, so it's nice to be reminded at these events.
We’ve significantly outperformed the budget, with sales at +22% up on budget and +44% up compared to Q1 2018. EBITDA is also looking very positive, being +28% vs budget and +23% up on Q1 2018.
This year we also hit a big milestone - we’ve now sold over 15 million corn tortillas! This is thanks to the great personal relationships the team has built with distribution channels, resulting in our products now being sold in 13 European countries.
What’s next for you and the team?
Having established the business in food service, we’ve now got our sights set on retail and supermarkets with our exciting new tortilla chips offering. We’ve created our all-natural corn tortilla chips, made to traditional recipes, so more people can discover the unique tastes of Mexico. We’ve partnered with small-scale, sustainable Mexican farmers to bring the best quality ingredients to create truly unique flavours. The chips are also gluten free and preservative free.
Why tortilla chips…
The Western European market for tortilla chips is set to grow by 32.6% in the next five years, reflecting an increased demand for Mexican food. On top of that, the Free From category continues to soar, with a growth of 37.5%, to nearly €1.45bn in 2018. We think the tortilla chip category is overdue a shake-up, and we want to fulfil this distinct gap for high quality and authentic products.
Why do you think people should invest in Blanco Niño now?
We’re fortunate to have the backing of a number of experienced investors. Not only that, but we’ve been recognised as a ‘High Potential Start-up’ by Enterprise Ireland.
We’ve proven ourselves in the food service industry with 24 fantastic partners on board to distribute our authentic corn tortillas across 13 European countries. We’re confident that we can replicate this success in retail.
We’ve got a phenomenal team, made up of passionate people with years of relevant experience, including our COO Gerry, former CEO of Dawn Fresh Foods, our Sales Director James, previously part of the founding team of PROPERCORN, and our non-Exec Finance Director Aiden, formerly CFO of Valeo Foods.
You can find out more and invest in Blanco Niño by visiting their pitch page.
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