Ruiz Foods retires Tulare plant after 20 years

(Rigo Moran)

Manufacturer plans to shut down facility in Tulare, citing plant’s small size, high capital investment needs as reasons behind the decision

TULARE – Ruiz Foods, an American food production and company founded in 1964, is saying goodbye to its home roots of Tulare later this year as the manufacturer prepares to wrap up operations at its facility on K Street.

After 20 years of residence, Ruiz Foods is retiring its Tulare manufacturing plant at the end of the current fiscal year. According to the announcement from the company, the facility will close and pull out of the town sometime between Aug. 30 and Sept. 13 of this year.​

In the announcement, the company said it determined the Tulare facility is too small for operations and requires substantial capital investment to meet its manufacturing needs in order to remain viable within the Ruiz Foods network.

Paula Wright, a spokesperson with Ruiz Foods, explained that the plant opened in 2004 as an extension of the manufacturer’s Dinuba plant and was originally intended to be a short-term additional capacity option. ​Now that Ruiz foods has other, larger plants, the additional capacity is no longer needed.

“It was never supposed to last 20 years. It was actually an extension of our Dinuba plant, which is one of our core plants – it’s a much bigger plant,” Wright said.

Before the larger plants were built, Ruiz Foods would produce its food, which is sold all over the country, here in the Central Valley. This added extra costs due to having to store the food in the region and ship it to farther distances, according to Wright. However, now that Ruiz foods has plants in multiple parts of the country, the company can save on shipping costs and use the Dinuba plant to produce the food they plan to sell in this region.

“That was the goal when we created these three plants: to be across the country and have a better network for our food production and distribution,” Wright said.

On top of that, the Tulare facility has its fair share of problems that make its operations cost more than it’s worth. According to Wright, the facility has a layout that causes manufacturing challenges, a poor parking set up as well as costly maintenance needs.

Wright said the Tulare plant has a total of 215 employees that will be impacted by the plant’s closure. Because of this, the company is doing what they can to provide support and options during this transition, including an option to transfer to the Dinuba plant for some workers.​

“They’ve (the employees) all been offered the opportunity to consider working at Dinuba, they’re offered (compensation) packages and that sort of thing,” Wright said. “We’ll also have an opportunity for them to be on a recall list, too; and even if they wanted to transfer to South Carolina or Texas, that’s certainly an option for them as well.”

Ruiz Foods Products, Inc. is a privately-owned corporation co-founded by Fred Ruiz and his father, Louis, in 1964. The manufacturer’s origins trace it back to the community of Tulare, where the business started in a small warehouse with two employees, a few appliances and Grandma Rosie’s recipes for enchiladas, burritos and tamales, according to the company’s website. 

Now the company has grown beyond its home roots and has locations across the nation, with facilities that branch across California, Texas and South Carolina.

The company is renowned for its premium quality, authentically prepared frozen foods, catering to a diverse range of distribution channels, including retail, convenience stores, clubs, vending, industrial and food service.

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