Me and My Brand: Aditi Hilgers of Old El Paso

Aditi Hilgers, UK Head of Marketing at Old El Paso, explains the brand’s incredible sales success – up almost 40% in indies over the past year as families learn to love Mexican

Aditi Hilgers

Can you please give an overview of your brand?  

Old El Paso is a £125m RSV brand[i] on a mission to bring loved ones together through delicious and fun Mexican-inspired meals since 1938. From tortillas and seasoning mixes to full meal kits – we have something for everyone.

How is your brand currently performing?  

Old El Paso is fun, tasty, informal, and designed for sharing – ideal for connection – and we know that, as a brand, we remain strongly associated with triggers related to shared moments with friends and family[ii]. Today, we’re the number one brand in World Foods and outperforming the Mexican category[iii], with our share at 58.8 per cent (+2.2 Share PP vs. LY) – the largest in the category[iv]. We also have the strongest repeat rate (54%) of all major brands[v].

How is the World Food/Mexican market currently performing?

Mexican accounts for a 12.1 per cent share within the World Foods category, up 1 per cent vs. LY[vi] and is currently growing ahead of the total category[vii].  It is one of only two cuisines that continued to grow over the last year and continues to build penetration versus pre-covid levels[viii]. This Is likely to be driven by multiple factors. With the increase of in-home meal occasions, consumers are more open to trying new cuisines. Plus, the simplicity and position as a family favourite makes Mexican an appealing choice for consumers.

Do you have any new product development?  

At Old El Paso our main priority is making Mexican a family favourite for everyone. Our aim for this year is to make fajitas a top 10 family favourite meal, by inspiring more people to share the vibrancy of Mexican Food. We know it’s a cuisine that 92 per cent of the population are open to, but only 50 per cent are buying[ix], demonstrating big headroom for growth!

We extended our category leading Old El Paso Tortilla Pockets range with a new Smoky BBQ variant. The SKU combines our first-to-market, sealed bottom wraps with our classic and best-selling Smoky BBQ flavour profile and was designed to build on the outstanding success of our Old El Paso Tortilla Pockets range.

Old El Paso Tortilla Pockets are truly anchored in resolving a consumer pain point around “mess” in Mexican and make the meal experience easier than ever. The platform has been a huge success, hitting £8.8M RSV sales in its first 18 months[x]. In fact, our Tortilla Pockets Mild Kit and Tortilla Pockets Carriers are two of the top four sellers in all World Foods NPD[xi].

How are you supporting your brand and NPD? 

In 2021, we invested £1.2 million in TV, social, influencers, radio, search & shopper and ensured we took our campaigns all the way through to point of purchase with best-in-class shopper marketing plans and strong promotions across key retail partners. Our consistent support across both core and innovation is why we remain the #1 spender in world foods[xii].

This year we’re bringing an exciting new campaign to market building on our fun and engaging Make Some Noise platform. We’ll also continue to invest strongly in media to drive consumer top-of-mind awareness and category penetration.

How important are independent retailers to your brand?  

Independent retailers play an important role in the success of Old El Paso – over the last year, sales of Old El Paso in independent stores have grown 39.6 per cent[xiii], mainly via the wholesale channel. Many World Food purchases are impulsive, so high visibility for Mexican, like POS activations and promotions, can help independent retailers drive increased sales in store.

What trends are occurring in the sector?  

The importance of togetherness has increased during the pandemic and its subsequent lockdowns, so cuisines which encourage people to connect over the dinner table and elevate the standard mid-week meal are growing in popularity.

Mexican is 32 per cent more likely to feature in “together time” evening meals[xiv]; it sparks conversation as people pass dishes and can be customised to everyone’s individual taste – so it’s a great experience for everyone! In fact, sitting down to eat Mexican triggers more laughter (+5 pts versus regular dinners) and encourages families to turn off the TV (+6 pts versus other dinners)[xv]. It’s the perfect opportunity to get round the table for true quality time.

At Old El Paso, we’re encouraging the ritualisation of Mexican with our campaign, Fajita Friday, designed to help families, households and friends reclaim that Friday feeling. The campaign kicked off last year across radio, influencers & social, and encouraged consumers to take part in their own end-of-week fiesta with fajitas, family and fun.

Mexican night is also showing up regularly in culture, with Old El Paso featuring organically on Netflix phenomenon “Sex Education”, “Married at First Sight” and most recently on “The Apprentice”. Spotting our products on these hit shows is a testament to the occasion’s growing popularity.

Describe your brand in three words?

Tasty, convenient, uncompromising.



[i] Nielsen Total Market Coverage WE 26th Feb 22

[ii] Kantar UK/FR, SoN 2019 AUS assumption calculation based on ratio of 2019 population from UK/FR metrics

[iii] Nielsen Scantrack GB Coverage, WE. 30.01.22

[iv]Nielsen Total Coverage WE 26th Feb 22

[v] Nielsen Homescan Panel, Total GB, 29th January 2020

[vi] Nielsen Performance by Cuisine Type: Grocery Multiples | Data up to WE 27.11.21

[vii] Nielsen World Foods 52W Nov 21

[viii] Nielsen Performance by Cuisine Type: Grocery Multiples | Data up to WE 27.11.21

[ix] Mexican U&A Study 2017

[x] Nielsen, Data to 27.11.21, GB Total Coverage

[xi] NielsenIQ RMS data to 29th January 2022

[xii] Nielsen AdDynamix October 2021

[xiii]AC Nielsen, GMI Fiscal YTD data ending 1st May 2021

[xiv]  Kantar Consumer Cooking & Meal Trends, March 2020

[xv] Old El Paso™, June 2019, 500 respondents across UK.