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Empresas Barsan Celebrates 20th Anniversary With New Product And $1.1 Million Investment

Sales Increased 65% In 2002; Still Hopes To Enter Supply Agreement With Wal-Mart


July 3, 2003
Copyright © 2003 CARIBBEAN BUSINESS. All Rights Reserved.

Empresas Barsan Inc. will invest $1.1 million to add 3,000 square feet to its 22,000-square-foot building in Cataño, a second production line, and refrigerated equipment to raise the company’s output of empanadillas, pastelillos, and tacos, which are sold in Puerto Rico, Florida, and Connecticut.

In the past 10 years, the company has invested more than $2.5 million to acquire its production facility from the Puerto Rico Industrial Development Co. and increase production. One indicator of Empresas Barsan’s growth is that its purchase of flour, a main ingredient in the company’s products, has gone from five quintales (100 kilograms) annually in 1983 to approximately 190 quintales today.

"When we started the business in 1983, there were only six employees," said Empresas Barsan President Vicente Sanchez. "That included my wife, Luisa, my son Luis Carlos, and other family members. Today, we are still a family business, with my wife as vice president, Luis Carlos as vice president of operations, my daughter-in-law Claudia in charge of human resources, and my sons Eduardo and Jaime and other family members helping out."

In 2001, the company bought a Dutch production line that tripled the company’s output.

"The addition of two silos for storing flour in 1999 and the new production line allowed us to offer new fillings," said Sanchez. "In early 2003, we introduced a seafood filling that has sold very well, and this week we will add choriqueso [a mixture of Spanish sausage and cheese]. So far, we offer seven products and 12 fillings."

In addition to empanadillas, pastelillos, and tacos, Empresas Barsan makes sorullos, rellenos, cassava or plantain alcapurrias, and plantillas for customers to make their own turnovers. Fillings include pizza (the most popular), lasagna, cheese, chicken, meat, guava, shrimp, crabmeat, codfish, and turkey. The company also offers cheese-filled corn dogs (hot dogs breaded in flour).

Empresas Barsan sells its products to most supermarket chains in Puerto Rico, including Sam’s Club. Sales to individual vendors who distribute the products to hundreds of small stores and lunch buses around the island are also key, forming what Sanchez calls a "native distribution chain."

"Up until 2001, our annual revenue grew an average of 8%," said Sanchez. "In 2001, we experienced an 8% growth in sales and in 2002 sales shot up by 65%. The increase was due to several factors, including Kikuet’s products being out of the market for about two months and the government’s decision to enforce that 75% of food coupons must be used to buy food.

"We also market our products to several supermarkets under their private labels and under two additional brands, Criollo and Gilbert," continued Sanchez. "In addition, every month we send a 40-foot container with our products for distribution in Hartford, Conn., and every two months a container goes to two supermarkets in Orlando, Fla."

As to product distribution to supermarket chains on the U.S. mainland, Empresas Barsan was one of 40 local companies participating in Wal-Mart’s Puerto Rico Trade Fair in Bentonville, Ark., in May.

"We have been in conversations with Wal-Mart about the trade fair, but haven’t begun a formal process [vendor agreement]," said Sanchez. "I guess we all went to Bentonville with high hopes. It was a great opportunity to present our products, which takes other companies months and sometimes years to do. Now we wait and see what happens.

"Wal-Mart is aware that there is an enormous Puerto Rican and Hispanic market [on the U.S. mainland] that wants to buy our local products," continued Sanchez. "I remain hopeful about our chances with Wal-Mart."

This Caribbean Business article appears courtesy of Casiano Communications.
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