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7 February, 2005

Grading system helps Ruiz upgrade
packing of limes from Mexico

Texas firm aims to give buyers 'what they want.'

Staff Writer

EDINBURG, Texas -- Seeing a need to improve the quality of limes shipped by the industry, Ruiz Sales Inc. has started a premium packing program that its owner says will change the industry.

"The problem with Mexican limes is that a lot of people just pack to pack," said Richard Ruiz, co-owner of the family-owned company that ships Mexican limes, mangoes, watermelon, strawberries and Texas cabbage, cantaloupe and cucumbers.

"If someone wants a Cadillac, you should give them that. These (shippers) only want to pack just what they have. We want to give them (buyers) what they want."

Trying to meet the needs of today's customers, the 14-year-old company started what it calls its total commitment approach over the summer.

The packer, which expects to ship 400,000 40-pound cases of limes this year, installed a new automatic grading and stickering system. The limes receive three gradings at Ruiz's Edinburg and Miami packing lines.

The packing system applies Ruiz's new Fresh Health labels. The stickers also feature the 5 a Day the Color Way logo on its Mexican key and persian limes.
The $200,000 Ruiz invested in new packing and labeling has helped increase sales for a major Florida supermarket chain, Ruiz said.

"They've told us the product really stands out among the industry," he said. "We want to provide a better product than what's available in today's market. Making a difference in today's market will change the industry."

The brand's new Web site,, provides health and nutrition information and recipes for its limes, mangoes and other tropical fruits.


Recipes and nutritional cards are provided to retailers.

"Consumers are looking for this information," Ruiz said. "They want it. They're hungry for it."

The country-of-origin labeling debate awakened him to the changing interests of consumers, Ruiz said. "We have a new buyer now," he said. "There are new generations of educated people. It's time we educate these new buyers that there are many benefits to this fruit. We have to tell them what to do with it, not just sell the fruit. People can use these products and live healthier lives."

  • Ruiz said he's working more closely with his growers in Veracruz, Mexico.

While limes are Ruiz's present focus, the packer plans to make similar changes to its mango program, Ruiz said.

He said there's no comparison to what the lime industry has done in the past.

  • Ruiz said he frequently visits area HEB stores and notices how well the stickered limes that the chain sells look.

"They now look as good as Sunkist lemons," he said.

Ruiz Sales Inc., Edinburg, Texas, has launched a Web site at It offers health and nutrition information and recipes for its limes, mangoes and other tropical fruits.

* An upgraded operation lets Ruiz apply stickers with its new Fresh Health labels and the 5 a Day the Color Way logo on its Mexican key and persian limes.


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