We are a family owned and operated business with humble beginnings.
1987 Don Barnes and his father Don Sr, founded Barnes Foods to enter the retail and food service food market in Goldsboro NC. Their first product, Mac’s Dumplings, was seeing a mild level of success in the frozen food aisle of grocery stores and in some restaurant kitchens, but growth in the first four (4) years had been slow.
1991 Don Sr. was actually a bank executive in his day job while his son worked full time trying to grow the dumpling business. Their largest customer was Quinn Wholesale, and in a coincidence IJ Quinn happened to also serve on Don Sr.’s bank board of directors. In a conversation one day in 1991, Mr. Quinn told Sr. he should produce tortillas. He believed they were going to become very popular in the US, including in the Southeast. Don Sr. shared that information with his son, and as they say, a business was born.
1992 The Barneses purchased a small corn tortilla production line that had been salvaged from a fire in Houston Texas and began making Pepito Tortillas. In the next 9 years they grew the label into one of the largest brands of tortillas on the east coast, counting Walmart, Ingles, Food Lion, Winn Dixie, Ahold, Sysco and many others among their customers.
1999 The tortilla division of the company is acquired by Gruma Corporation, owners of Mission Foods, the largest tortilla company in the world, and the dumpling business is acquired by Harvest Times Foods, a competitor who was seeing significant growth. Both of the Barneses spent time working at Mission. During this time they assist Mission in building a new 80,000 square foot manufacturing and distribution plant in Goldsboro that tripled the number of employees at the facility. This plant still operates today. When that time was over, Sr. retired and Don started a new business.
2007 With the most recent business sold, Don and his wife Nicole decide that the tortilla industry still offered a great opportunity for growth. But Don knew that a key to a new company’s future was that Allen Lydick, who had been his sales director in the 1990s and a key to their success, come along for the new venture. He made a pitch to Allen over breakfast at a Denny’s one morning. Fortunately, Allen signed up to join them. They purchase equipment and begin to renovate the factory they had vacated after the sell to Mission. Less than six months later, ALTA Foods ships its first product.
2007-2018 These years become the foundation of ALTA Foods. Less than one year after the first products are shipped, the Great Recession occurs. Gaining financial credit becomes almost impossible, so growth has to be funded internally. But with the introduction of the Celia’s brand and its success with retailers and the creation of a full line of food service products for restaurants, ALTA weathers three (3) years of the worst economy in US history.
2010 ALTA Foods becomes a major supplier to the US Military and the military of many of the US’s allies, producing a flour tortilla that is used in MRE’s all over the world.
2018 ALTA relocates from its original factory to its present location. The building had previously been a Keebler and Mondelez Company Distribution Center and offered ALTA more building and more land for future expansion.
2022Today, they are a leader in the industry, making the lowest low carb tortilla on the market under both the Fiesta Fit and Celia’s label, along with a full line of flour and corn tortillas and ready to fry chips, selling in more than 2000 supermarkets and thousands of restaurants. They are also one of the largest producers of Private Label tortillas in the country.
Now more than thirty years after IJ Quinn put the idea in Don Sr.’s head, the Barnes family continues to be a leading producer and innovator in the tortilla category, which continues to grow in popularity throughout the world.