October 29, 2013
- Dole Food Company, the leading fruit multinational, will invest approximately US$ 18 million in a processing plant in Madrid, Cundinamarca. This is the largest investment in Colombia’s fruit and vegetable sector in the last five years.
- The company will introduce a novel concept involving processed fruits and vegetables into the Colombian market. It will utilize high technology washing and packaging to produce ready-to-eat products targeting both retail and institutional markets.
- Dole’s presence in Cundinamarca will significantly influence small, medium, and large producers in the region, who will benefit from a new market for their products.
- Iván Ramírez, Project Manager at Dole, explains, “The assistance received from Invest in Bogota and Proexport was key to our investment. Both institutions have provided us with significant research resources over the past two years as well as assisted us in identifying local producers and connecting with the regional suppliers needed for the construction of our plant.”
Dole Food Company, the world’s largest fruit multinational, will invest approximately US$ 18 million in a processing plant in Madrid, Cundinamarca, which is expected to begin operations in May 2014. The complex, spanning approximately 40,000 m2, will produce fourth tier fruits and vegetables, that is, sanitized, chopped, packaged, and highly durable products ready for direct consumption. Regular vegetables will also be processed in accordance with good manufacturing practices (GMPs).
Iván Ramírez, Project Manager at Dole, explains, “We aim to become a strategic partner to companies already established in the region, buying from agricultural producers and small farmers in Cundinamarca, thus providing them with alternative buyers for their products. This, along with institutional support from programs such as the Ministry of Agriculture's Productive Partnerships Program, is directed at small farmers and producers.”
Dole arrives in Colombia with a novel proposition for the local market: vegetables that are sanitized, processed, chopped, and packaged using high technology processes, allowing immediate consumption from the bag to the plate. This approach eliminates the need for washing, and the packaging ensures that the product can breathe while still guaranteeing its freshness and durability. In addition, the company will introduce fresh and preserved fruit in different packaging options, targeting markets such as executives, students, and children, while it will also prepare traditional vegetables processed in accordance with GMPs, using presentations identical to those found in US supermarkets. Dole will target not only the end consumer located in Bogota but also the institutional market of distribution companies (catering), which comprises 80% of all demand among national and local companies.
Ramírez further explains, “This is the largest investment in Colombia’s fruits and foodstuffs sector in the last five years. This is very important for us, as in the long run, the Bogota Region will be one of our export centers into Panama and Venezuela. We will do good social and productive work as well as will generate wealth and provide the market with a new consumption option.”
Ramírez continues, “The Bogota savanna is ideal for an activity such as ours: the region will provide up to 35% of our consumption demand; it experiences weather that is ideal for planting crops; it provides access to the domestic market with favorable marketing and transportation costs; and it offers a significant variety and constant supply of agricultural products in several municipalities.”
Invest in Bogota and Proexport Colombia assisted in Dole's establishment process
Ramírez highlighted the support received from these institutions: “The assistance received from Invest in Bogota and Proexport was key to our investment. Over the past two years, they have provided research resources and helped us choose local suppliers (farmers) as well as local construction companies capable of undertaking the plant's infrastructure projects.”
Juan Gabriel Pérez, Executive Director of Invest in Bogota, states, “Learning that a company of such renown as Dole has chosen the Bogota Region as the location for its facilities was great news. As facilitators during the decision-making process, we highlighted the value added offered by the region in terms of agricultural products, access to markets, availability of land, and variety of raw materials. In addition, Cundinamarca, as the third largest produce center in Latin America, hosts over 300 regional companies in the food sector, providing a privileged geographical location as well as highly skilled human resources.”
“This sector is a priority for the promotion of investments in Bogota, as it generates quality employment and involves a high degree of innovation as well as knowledge and technology transfers,” Pérez stated.
María Claudia Lacouture, President of Proexport Colombia, pointed out that one of the largest vegetable and fruit multinationals’ choice of Colombia for its agroindustrial project attests to the country's ability to incorporate and host large-scale productive projects using foreign capital, thus bringing economic and social benefits to farmers.
Lacouture stated, “Construction of this fruit and vegetable processing plant in Madrid will create new jobs in the agricultural sector and will improve the sector’s quality, which is part of the Productive Transformation Program, enabling it to match international standards. The company perceives certain clear opportunities as part of the free trade agreement between Colombia, the United States, Canada, and Central America, regions into which its products may be exported.”
Dole also received support from the Bogota Chamber of Commerce, through the Megaproyecto Agroindustrial (MEGA), in terms of presenting the project to small farmers and identifying vegetable suppliers. Moreover, the market study conducted by the Corporación Colombia Internacional (CCI) was also crucial to Dole’s arrival in the region.