“Knowing the customers’ preferences, we decided to start a business and the success was immediate.”
– Fabiana Roik, Paleteria Original
MEXICAN PALETAS: THE RISE OF A TROPICAL TREAT
The original Mexican paleta is a simple frozen treat made with water, fruit, and sugar, and it is popularly sold in the streets of Mexico. This concept arrived in Brazil in 2014, where it went through a reformulation that resulted in a much richer and premium final product. This new version preserved the most traditional characteristics of the Mexican product: its natural and fresh appeal, and its size — which is much bigger than a regular frozen pop found in stores. As for the changes, besides the larger number of flavors, the Brazilian version also introduced delicious types of fillings that were responsible for the concept’s success all over the country in the last two years. Now, this premium version of paleta is taking off in different countries. Some paleterias, as their shops are called, can already be found in the United States, and judging by the publics’ acceptance, it looks like the concept is about to spread out even more. The brand Paleteria Original is one of the shops that achieved great success in Brazil and migrated to America, looking to expand its market internationally. Co-partner, Fabiana Roik, shares some insight about the company’s story and her experience with the paleta market in Brazil and in the U.S.
Tatiane Banks (TB): To start, can you tell us a little about your career before Paleteria Original’s opening?
Fabiana Roik (FR): I have always worked in the commercial area. For many years, I was a manager at the multinational cosmetic company, Avon, leading about two thousand people at this time. This position helped me develop my motivational and entrepreneurial side even more. My husband and partner is a dentist.
(TB): How do you see the paleta trend in Brazil and what made you decide to enter this line of business?
(FR): Brazil gave a new face to the traditional Mexican paletas, this new concept’s rise was followed by a great acceptance by the Brazilian public. Knowing the customers’ preferences, we decided to start a business and the success was immediate.
(TB): As you mentioned, the concept that took over the Brazilian industry is a bit different from the actual Mexican paletas. Can you describe what the production process is like and how is the quality of the paletas made in Brazil?
(FR): The Mexican paleta sold in Brazil kept the most important characteristics traditionally offered by the Mexican product, such as the size — 125ml, more than double the regular frozen pops sold in stores, usually 60ml — and the use of fresh fruit, and no preservatives or artificial flavorings. Brazilians remodeled this version by adding high quality fillings, and this innovation can be considered the biggest reason why paletas are a big success. As for the production, our process is 100% artisan, and this is one of our biggest differentiators from the rest of the companies in the market. In addition to that, we also carry exclusive product lines developed only with the best ingredients and raw materials, which ensures that our customers will always have an unforgettable final product. High quality is our brand’s main concept and the secret to our business.
(TB): How many locations does Paleteria Original have today? The brand works with company-owned stores, franchises, and with distribution, is that correct?
(FR): Between Brazil and the U.S., we have six franchises (which includes stores, kiosks, and food bikes), one company-owned store, and over 100 points of sale to which we distribute.
(TB): Are the paletas produced in each one of the stores, or are they manufactured in a production center and then distributed to each location?
(FR): We have a production center and we handle the distribution to all our points of sale. This helps with maintaining consistent flavor and quality.
(TB): What do you think attracts customers the most about this concept?
(FR): Its natural appeal together with the creative combination of flavors are definitely the main reasons why people like paletas so much.
(TB): Speaking of flavor combinations, what are the most popular ones?
(FR): Between the six product lines we carry, the filled paletas are the ones we sell the most, especially the strawberry filled with condensed milk, the passion fruit filled with condensed milk, the coconut filled with dulce de leche, and the Nido® milk filled with Nutella®.
(TB): What made you decide to bring your brand to the U.S.? What potential do you see for this concept here?
(FR): We believe in the paleta as a successful business in the frozen dessert market. That is why right after establishing the operations in Brazil we already had the desire to expand our brand to the international market. The high number of ice cream consumption in the U.S. influenced our final decision to start the expansion here. We chose Florida as our first step, since the warm climate is similar to what we have in Brazil, and this is favorable to the industry as well. So far, customer response has been very positive.
(TB): Do you have plans of opening more stores in the U.S. or in other countries?
(FR): Yes. Our project includes spreading the brand to all American states through franchisees and points of sale. We are also in negotiations to take Paleteria Original to Europe, starting with Portugal and Spain.
(TB): What is the biggest lesson you’ve learned with your business to date?
(FR): We learned not to underestimate the palate. When we present a new product, its quality is essential to captivate the public.