On those month-long customer visits, in which he visited every state, he called on about every chain store that existed before consolidation reduced the number of supermarket chains.
“Those were long car trips,” said Jane Prue, office manager and Caneza’s oldest daughter who works with the company. “We will never forget the hard work and the humble beginnings that went into the business in the early years. As kids, we were fortunate to witness firsthand the hard work that is necessary to keep a successful business moving forward. This has stayed with us.”
Three generations of Canezas are involved in the business, which has grown to become one of the leading growers, shippers, processor and packers of retail fresh and processed garlic.
Caneza’s seven granddaughters and two of his seven grandsons work in the business.
When Caneza entered the business, suppliers shipped 1 million to 3 million pounds of fresh garlic a year. Today, that number approaches 200 million pounds out of 700 million pounds total, Caneza said.
Per-capita consumer consumption also has increased from a tiny fraction of a pound to 2 pounds today, he said.
Fresh sales account for about half of Spice World’s sales.
Because of convenience, Caneza said he sees ready-to-eat jarred garlic as the future for retail garlic sales.
Citing proprietary information, Caneza declined to state the millions of dollars in sales or volume of product his company ships.
He said the industry is dominated by three large firms, and said Spice World is the leading U.S. fresh and processed garlic supplier to chain stores.
Since its founding, Caneza has expanded his company and the sale of garlic into other areas and has made innovations in areas such as packaging and food safety.
Spice World added a line of spices during the 1970s, entered the processing deal in 1984, and after having past partnership deals with growers, become a grower during the opening of the 1990s.
The company grows on a couple thousand acres in the central San Joaquin Valley with a packing and processing plant in Coalinga, Calif.
Andy Caneza, chief executive officer of Spice World Inc., Orlando, Fla., examines some fresh garlic being packed on the line in mid-September. The company is marking its 60th anniversary this year.