During the past 11 years, Lilly Rocha’s professional life has revolved around the food industry in the United States and last September, reaching new heights in her career, she was named president of the Latino Food Industry Association (LFIA).
Rocha grew up in California, but her parents are Colombian. However, she acknowledges that she has been very influenced by the richness of Mexican culture throughout the years she’s lived in Los Angeles and San Francisco.
“Even my accent is more Mexican,” she said in an interview with Abasto magazine.
She graduated from the California University, Berkeley and continued her studies in St. Mary’s University in London. Her first job was as a meeting manager for the Nokia company in Silicon Valley.
At the end of the year 2000, Rocha created her own company, Space 67 Productions, dedicating herself to managing and producing corporate events, including trade shows related to the food industry. Her interest in this particular industry continued to grow and in 2013, she founded the Sabor Latino trade show, realizing the great growth potential of Latin products in the US market.
“The most important thing that I have been able to see is the rise in the status of Hispanic foods, their great variety, which not only come from one place but from different countries and the whole world is knowing all these flavors,” said Rocha.
Rocha joined the LFIA in 2016 as a member of the Board of Directors looking to support other Hispanic professionals in the food industry. Currently the association has 1,400 members and strategic partners.
For its commitment to the Latino Food Industry Association, the Board of Directors appointed Rocha as president of the LFIA at the beginning of last September.
“We feel honored that Lilly Rocha has accepted our offer of leading the Latino Food Industry Association, as we enter a new era of growth and expansion of our services for our members,” said Ruben Smith, Chairman of the Board of Directors. “Her years of experience and dedication to the introduction and expansion of Latin food to the diverse communities of the nation will serve as a real asset to our organization.”
For the executive, in her new role as president of the LFIA, her main goal in the association is to “advocate for Hispanics in the food industry and we want to represent them in all aspects, not just restaurant owners, but distributors, Latin food producers. We have important goals and although we are starting work in the association, my hope is to establish deep roots so that the future presidents of the LFIA continue the work of support.”
She recognized that Hispanics face many needs in this industry and the number one need is how to make money, which the association offers a wide variety of resources for, including education to succeed in their business.
On the future of the food industry and the growing use of electronic commerce, Rocha explained that they are working to be up to date in this field and mentioned the Latin Food Symposium presented by the LFIA as an example, held on August 20, where representatives of Amazon were invited as the main speakers of the event to answer the public’s questions on how the electronic giant is transforming the way of doing business in the industry.
During 2019, under Rocha’s leadership, the LFIA will dedicate its efforts to lobby the government for better benefits for Latino businesses and offer education resources for the members of the association.