PHARR, TX — At Ruiz Sales, families are at the forefront of the company’s mission to provide healthy and safe food.
Richard Ruiz, president of the Edinburg, TX-based distributor of tropical items from Mexico, believes that it is incumbent on the industry to provide fresh, safe and traceable produce to consumers at all times. And proper protocols must be followed at all levels of the supply chain in order to accomplish that goal.
“We owe it to the moms and kids to provide fruit that is fresh, safe and a good value,” Mr. Ruiz told The Produce News March 5 at the company’s packinghouse, here. “Fruit needs to be PTI-compliant so that we can build and maintain the trust of the industry and consumers. And that also means that retailers must buy only from reputable suppliers that have a traceability program in place. Until that happens, there will be the risk of a food-safety outbreak that could cause harm to individuals as well as the reputation of the industry.”
Mr. Ruiz has made investments in his business to achieve high standards in food safety and traceability. In recent years, the firm installed a stickering system to affix traceability stickers to each piece of fruit. While the cost of the new equipment cannot necessarily be passed along to customers, he said that it is simply the cost of doing business these days.
“We are not the least expensive supplier, but our fruit is top quality and traceable all the way through the supply chain,” he said. “People can be assured that when they are eating a piece of fruit from Ruiz Sales, they are getting the best and safest produce possible.”
Maintaining consumer confidence is a key part of Mr. Ruiz’s philosophy. With four medical doctors in his extended family, he has a keen understanding of the chronic health issues that affect Americans and the role that fresh produce plays in counteracting those health issues.
“With childhood obesity on the rise, and all the health issues like diabetes and heart disease that come from eating poorly, the produce industry is in a unique position to make a difference in peoples’ lives,” he said. “That is why it is so important for people to have confidence in our products so that they eat more produce and lead healthier lives.
“Also, if we can help with the overall health of the population, then fewer tax dollars will be spent on treating people with these illnesses,” he added. “It will put the country in a better place financially.”
While Mr. Ruiz makes it his business to look out for the families in America, he treats his own staff as if they were family members as well.
“We’ve got a great group of young people working for us,” said Mr. Ruiz. “We train them both in-house and with outside training on things like safety and equipment operation so that they can be more responsible and efficient. And basically, we teach them about our corporate philosophy, which is quality above all.”