Dec 20, 2016 • By

Old El Paso a stand-up global success

From “Taco Tuesday” in the U.S. to “Cozy Friday” in Norway, Old El Paso is proving there’s ‘No wrong way to taco’ around the world.

Today, General Mills announced financial results for the second quarter of fiscal 2017.

And one of the highlights is the continued success of Old El Paso. (You can find the full press release, here.)

“We remain committed to our Consumer First strategy, and where we’re getting the ideas right, it’s driving growth – whether that’s Annie’s and LÄRABAR in the U.S., Häagen-Dazs outside North America, or Old El Paso around the world,” said Ken Powell, Chairman and CEO.


Old El Paso has been generating good growth not only in the U.S., with retail sales up 6 percent in the second quarter, but also in markets abroad, such as Canada and Norway. In Europe alone, retail sales have grown at a high-single digit compound rate over the past two years.

Founded in 1917 in Texas as the Mountain Pass Canning Company, Old El Paso today is our largest business in Convenient Meals, generating more than $1 billion globally in annual retail sales.

Despite its U.S. origins and history, the business is now larger outside of the country. Our International regions have drafted off U.S. successes, while also expanding geographically. This model helped Canada and Europe post mid single-digit retail sales growth in this category last year.


It turns out, the international community is really into Mexican food – with the right dose of catering.

The secret to Old El Paso’s success around the world has been its ability to customize its products to meet the unique local tastes of consumers, while still providing adventuresome flavor.

For example, knowing the French are generally sensitive to hot and spicy foods, Old El Paso created a line of extra mild products. And Japan has welcomed a Mexican twist on the country’s traditional rice cracker.

Hear Alyssa Buckalew, a research and development manager at General Mills, explain how the brand is responding to preferences around the world, here.

In the U.S., Old El Paso has been focused on freshness and customization. A recent feature in the Star Tribune outlined about how tacos land at the intersection of these key trends, especially among millennials and young Gen Xers. Old El Paso taco shells appeal to those demands by serving as the base for fresh, nutritious dishes such as fish and lettuce tacos, and boasting just three ingredients (limed corn flour, palm oil, salt). They also make the perfect palette to express all kinds of culinary creativity.

Old-El-Paso-Extra-MildOne such example of appealing to the modern foodie is Old El Paso’s Restaurante line, which started in Canada and spread to several countries across Europe, as well as Australia and New Zealand. Everything from the dinner kits, seasoning, tortillas and sauces embody a cantina feel, brought to life from authentic Mexican traditions.


At the same time, Old El Paso appeals to families where tacos and fajitas are an affordable favorite for all ages.

Earlier this year, Old El Paso introduced Whole Wheat Taco Boats in the U.S. and debuted its Mini Taco Boats in Europe, where they are known as Stand ‘N’ Stuff Minis. The miniature shells are a smaller take on the “boat” tortilla, perfect for kids and appetizers.


Old El Paso isn’t stopping there.

The brand is currently expanding into Russia, Poland, Australia and the Netherlands. And there’s still plenty of growth opportunity in Europe, where the average consumer enjoys Mexican dinner only four or five times per year (compared to the U.S., where the average consumer has Mexican dinner 24 times per year).

While the possibilities for new local twists are endless, one thing is constant: Old El Paso makes its tacos in consumer-first fashion.

Have an idea for a story you’d like to see on “A Taste of General Mills”? Please let us know in the comments below or via email at contact.blog@genmills.com.

Subscribe to “A Taste of General Mills” by email – here – and we’ll notify you about our latest posts.