I.  About the Author

Pete Vegas was raised in the small town of Ferriday, La.  His family has always been involved in farming, and he farmed soybeans (on his own) to earn his way through college. He worked for Chiquita Banana on a 12,000 acre banana farm in Panama for two years after graduating from Louisiana State University with a degree in Agribusiness.  Pete returned to school and earned a Master’s Degree (MBA) from Harvard Business School.

Pete became manager of a startup rice milling company that was a joint venture between Comet Rice and the government of Puerto Rico.  The government planned to convert thousands of acres of idle sugar cane land into rice production, and then mill the rice on the island.  Pete supervised construction of the Comet milling facility and trained a 200 man work force.  It was a great opportunity to learn the business because Pete was involved in farming, drying, storing, milling, and marketing the rice. The local farming project faltered and the company was forced to import rice.  As a result, Pete learned a great deal about shipping, stevedoring, and handling bulk rice.  The company was a tremendous success during Pete’s tenure as manager.

In 1986, Pete returned to the U.S. to become Vice President of Marketing for Comet Rice mills. At the time, Comet owned large mills in Maxwell, California and Greenville, Mississippi.  Pete Vegas traveled the world to develop customers for Comet Rice. He studied Thai Jasmine rice in Thailand, Basmati rice in northern India, and Japonica rice in Japan. On behalf of the company, Pete did joint ventures in Europe and Asia. At the time, the largest customer for U.S. rice was the government of Iraq.  All the rice was being shipped to Iraq in 50 KG bags.  Utilizing his knowledge of rice logistics, Pete designed and supervised construction of a bulk handling facility in Aqaba, Jordan.  The facility incorporated new technology that, for the first time, allowed large volumes of high quality white rice to be shipped in bulk and bagged at destination. The cost savings were tremendous.  Comet came to totally dominate the Iraqi market and its sales to Iraq exceeded 300,000 MT per year.  Pete resigned his position with Comet Rice to start Comet Rice Ingredients (as a subsidiary of Comet Rice) just months before the Iraqi war brought the U.S. rice business to a standstill.  

Pete has always had an interest in food science.  In his world travels, he learned how other countries used rice in applications other than table rice.  In the United States other grains like corn are used to make snacks, starches, maltodextrins, high fructose corn syrup, cooking oil, etc.  Pete’s concept was to develop similar new applications and products from rice, and so Comet Rice Ingredients was born in 1992. Over the years, the company has developed an extensive line of rice flour, pregelatinized flours, instant rice, IQF (frozen) rice, and more recently, crisp rice.  In 1998 American Rice had financial problems and for a period of time operated under the protection of bankruptcy.  During this time, in partnership with an investor group in Los Angeles, Pete acquired the assets and liabilities of Comet Rice Ingredients.  The company was renamed Sage V Foods, and initially owned and operated two food production facilities in Freeport, Texas near American Rice Inc. Over time Pete bought out the original investors.  In 2006, Sage V Foods built a new flour mill (in partnership with Producers Rice Mill of Arkansas) and an extrusion plant in Stuttgart, Ark.  In 2009 Sage built a new plant in Little Rock, Ark to manufacture frozen rice and instant rice. Both Arkansas plants are state of the art and highly automated. The plant in Little Rock was the fifth time in Pete’s career where he supervised construction and startup of a manufacturing plant.

Today, Sage V Foods is the leading manufacturer of rice flour, frozen rice, and crisp rice, as well as an important manufacturer of instant rice.  Sage V Foods is a well recognized and approved supplier at almost every major food company in the United States.