Tex Mex the Swedish way
The typical Swedish Friday evening meal of tacos and toppings is a great example of how we Swedes can adopt food trends and styles from other places and make them our own – and then put them back out on the international market.
Tex Mex the Swedish way has its roots in the developmentally optimistic 1980’s, when the American brand Old El Paso was introduced in Sweden. The American trend inspired the Swedish spice company Nordfalks. The concept was perfect for a flavouring company. In 1991, the first Swedish products were launched under the traditional spice brand Santa Maria.
Sales were slow at first, but with a substantial investment in marketing and from competition between the brands, the segment grew from a few million to a SEK billion market. The concept grew and came to include spice mixes, salsa, taco shells for tortilla bread, tortilla chips, and finally the golden Swedish hybrid: the tortilla pizza.
From main focus being on flavour and spices, taco shapes, chips, and tortilla bread came to play an increasingly important role. In 2008, the company opened a new tortilla bakery in the city of Landskrona, where state-of-the-art technology was used to make bread with long shelf-life completely without preservatives.
For Nordfalks, now Paulig, more exotic flavour concepts, like Asian and Indian, came together under the Santa Maria brand. They also became new examples of how Swedish consumers brought culinary experiences with them home and how we then put our own spin on that culinary experience.
The Swedish variant of dishes from the border between Mexico and the United States also reached other markets, especially in Europe with the Baltic States, Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, and the United Kingdom. In 2018, the Paulig snack division, comprising tortillas, taco chips, taco shells, and meal kits, had sales of 273 million euros.