Last Saturday, Jose Antonio Ortega Bonet, founder of Sazon Goya Food Company passed away just one month shy of his 80th birthday. He was battling lung cancer.
“Pepe” Ortega, known to his friends as “El Gallego,” uprooted his family in 1960, fleeing Cuba’s communist revolution. After a stint in Colombia, settled in Puerto Rico, where he started a successful career in the food business that eventually became Sazón Goya, in partnership with the Unanue family, owners of Goya Foods, the largest Hispanic-owned food business.
“Pepe” was a philanthropist. Among his major beneficiaries are the Centro Mater Foundation, the League Against Cancer, Mercy Hospital and the José Martí scholarships. While Goya’s national sponsorships include the National Council of La Raza, the National Puerto Rican Day Parade, the United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, and the National Hispana Leadership Institute. Goya is also the first Hispanic company to be exhibited at the Smithsonian National Museum of American History.
I just wanted to express my sincere gratitude to Mr. Ortega for his immense contribution, hard work, and for paving the way by leading such an exemplar, industrious, creative career for others in his stead. How many of us grew up singing the jingle: “Si Es Goya Tiene Que Ser Bueno?” Sazón and Goya have been intregral parts of our cuisine and culture for many years and the company is to be commended for offering this and sharing it with world, allowing the connections from our homelands to our diasporas to never be lost.