(Oct. 3) IRWINDALE, Calif. — In Spanish, fresca means fresh. Ready Pac Produce Inc. is trying to capitalize on growing tastes for Hispanic food by launching a fresh-cut version of Mexican salsa fresca.

By November, the fresh-cut produce processor plans to ship 7- and 16-ounce tubs of pico de gallo to most supermarkets throughout the U.S., said Bill Zinke, Ready Pac’s vice president of marketing. Initial shipments started in late September.

“It’s an area where we have seen great success in restaurants, but it hasn’t been brought to supermarkets in the kind of quality of product and the type of national distribution that’s been needed,” he said.

The product, which sells for $1.99-2.49 for the 7-ounce tub and $3.99 for the 16-ounce, is an expansion of Ready Pac’s designed-for-convenience vegetable line.

The salsa — made with preservative-free tomatoes, onions, jalapeno and serrano peppers, cilantro and garlic — has increasingly become a household meal preparation item, Zinke said.

“It’s becoming more popular around the country,” Zinke said. “This fits with what we believe is a major consumer need, giving consumers a way of eliminating the chopping, washing and dicing involved in preparing a meal.”

The product goes beyond a tortilla chip dip, he said.

“It’s not just in ethnic cooking,” Zinke said.

Salsa has been added to omelets and used to top fish and chicken dishes.

“You see it in a lot of restaurants as an ingredient or topping for burritos, quesadillas, tacos or fajitas,” Zinke said.

“It’s becoming as much of a meal component, something you add to a meal recipe, as something you eat straight through as a snack.”

Ready Pac’s convenience vegetable line consists of nine products, including the salsa packs, sliced peppers, sliced onions, diced red onions, packs of yellow, red and green peppers and salad confetti, a blend of eight chopped vegetables.

Ready Pac dips into pico de gallo
Ready Pac Produce Inc., Irwindale, Calif., expects to have 7-ounce and 16-ounce containers of pico de gallo in supermarkets by November.