In the dynamic Mexican business landscape, César Villalobos, Chief Operating Officer at Preferred Popcorn in Mexico, has led innovation by introducing the first ready-to-eat popcorn brand with a healthy focus in the country. The idea arose from the growing concern about high obesity rates in Mexico, his home country, and his experience in the movie candy business acquired from his father's company.
From Inspiration to Action
Motivated by the need to offer a healthier alternative, César Villalobos launched Slim Pop, the first ready-to-eat popcorn brand in Mexico. This popcorn are popped with hot air, making them a low-calorie, trans-fat-free, and non-GMO option. Villalobos saw this initiative not only as a business but also as an opportunity to make a positive impact by providing a truly healthy snack for both children and adults, offering an alternative to classic fried snacks.
In 2016, according to the National Health and Nutrition Survey (ENSANUT), obesity rates in Mexico were alarming. 33.2% of school-aged children (5-11 years old) were obese, followed by 36.3% of teenagers (12–19 years old), and a concerning 72% of adults with obesity issues. Slim Pop emerged as a response to this reality, becoming the first brand of ready-to-eat popcorn popped with hot air in the Mexican market.
Innovation and Recognition
Launched in 2015 after two years of development, Slim Pop has stood out in the market with its unique hot air popping technology. The innovative packaging did not go unnoticed, winning the award for the best packaging design in the national snacks' category in 2014. This distinction was granted by Expopack, highlighting the quality and aesthetic focus of Slim Pop's healthy popcorn.
César Villalobos faced one of the most significant challenges for entrepreneurs: leaving the comfort of his family company. Despite already having a family business background, Villalobos recognized the need for bold decision-making and dedicating time and effort to successfully embark on entrepreneurship. His story reflects the entrepreneurial spirit that drives many to seek new opportunities and leave their comfort zones.
Tips for Entrepreneurship
In a country full of opportunities like Mexico, Villalobos shares valuable advice for those looking to venture into entrepreneurship:
- Innovation: Continually seek something new in the market or that has a unique differentiator.
- National Support: Favor national suppliers to contribute to the overall economic development of the country.
- Authenticity and Happiness: Do not fear to evaluate whether what you are doing is what you want and what truly brings happiness.
With 16 million liters of popcorn consumed annually in America, Slim Pop aims to increase its presence both in Mexico and abroad. With a recent investment of 5 million pesos to acquire a new packaging line with three times the production capacity, the company plans to increase its production by 400%. Additionally, the company will start exporting to Central and South America, demonstrating its strong commitment to expansion and promoting healthy snack options in the region.