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Puerto Rico to hike purchases of Dominican produce; McDonalds and Pueblo among the top customers
BY JOHN COLLINS
March 15, 2001
McDonalds in Puerto Rico is expected to commence purchasing all of the onions, lettuce and tomatoes for its 122 outlets in Puerto Rico from producers in the Dominican Republic (D.R.), D.R. Minister of Agriculture Eligio Jacquez announced in Santo Domingo upon his return from Puerto Rico.
Jacquez led a delegation of Dominican exporters and producers to San Juan recently on the occasion of the countrys Independence Day which was coordinated by the Center for the Promotion of Dominican Exports, headed by Rolando Galvan.
A highlight of the visit was the First D.R. Farm Produce Exhibition held at Casa Blanca in Old San Juan, which Jacquez described as a success.
Contacted to comment on McDonalds sourcing from the D.R., Brian Unger, its Caribbean Market Manager, said "we had a good meeting with Minister Jacquez. We first started talking about sourcing options for our 12 fast-growing restaurants in the D.R. That opened the door because we havent chosen a supplier yet. But were excited by the prospects offered by the D.R. because its a natural supplier of just those things mentionedonions, lettuce and tomatoes. A supplier must be approved and, once certified, can sell to McDonalds throughout the region. But the D.R. is perfectly situated as a potential supplier for our growing network in the Caribbean."
Indicating that a surplus in farm produce is expecting to hit the market in March, Jacquez
said President Hipolito Mejias administration "is seeking export markets, like in neighboring Puerto Rico, so that the surplus does not depress local prices, which, in turn, would affect the farmers profitability." The president is an agronomist and a successful agro-industrialist and an emphasis on agriculture by his administration was expected.
Jacquez also said that the members of the delegation were "heartened" by its meetings with the Pueblo Supermarket chain which announced "it would be buying lots of its fresh produce from the D.R.
"The government of President Mejia seeks to convert the D.R. into what it should have been a long time agoa supplier of food products for neighboring countries in the Caribbean," said Jacquez. "The D.R. has the capacity, utilizing advanced technologies, to produce food for 40 million people." The population of the D.R. has topped 8 million with more than another million living abroad.
The latest statistics released by the Planning Board indicate that the two-way trade between Puerto Rico and the D.R. has experienced some adjustments recently. In Fiscal Year 2000 Puerto Rico imported $771 million in goods from the D.R., down from $806 million in 1999.
Trade experts attribute the contraction to two major factorsthe aftermath of Hurricane Georges in late 1998 on subsequent agricultural production and exports, and the downturn in manufacturing in the D.R. as it felt the impact of increased competition from other countries while awaiting the passage of the Caribbean Basin Initiative Enhancement Act which was signed into law by President Bill Clinton last year.
The reduction in imports was balanced by an increase in Puerto Ricos exports to the D.R. in 2000 which were $772.3 million, up from $730.6 million in 1999, thus eliminating Puerto Ricos $75 million trade deficit with the D.R. in 1999, and bringing the balance to about even in 2000with Puerto Rico edging slightly ahead by $1.8 million.
This Caribbean Business article appears courtesy of Casiano Communications.