An increase in international markets for 66-year-old local manufacturing company Bello, will not only result in price increases for farmers for their produce, but will allow company expansion and equipment upgrades in the company.
Managing Director of Bello, Michael Fagan, told a press conference this morning that the company is looking to launch the Bello brand in several states in the US and Europe by year-end as a result of the increase in markets.
“At this time there is a number of increased market opportunities for the Bello brand in North America, Europe as well as the wider world. We are launching in New York, in Miami, in London and Houston under the Bello brand by year-end,” he said.
Fagan said that this greater sense of urgency for Dominican raw materials will expand the fresh and market food sector and that this is expected to allow the company to upgrade the equipment and increase employment. “The medium term goal is to replace some of the older equipment we have little by little…With the increased amount of volume that we will be doing, there are plans in place to increase our production output and therefore we will be needing new equipment. We would be replacing them as the cash flow comes available,” he stated.
“As the company grows we intend to increase employment, we tend to increase the number of farmers that we are buying from. We intend to increase the range of items that we are buying from. You should start seeing new products coming from us in the very near term,” he said.
Fagan noted that while the company has raised its rates to farmers, prices will tend to fluctuate depending on supply and demand. “If the supply is high and the demand is low, you can’t expect the same price that you will get every time, so we want to benefit the community but the prices will fluctuate according to supply and demand,” he said.
He assured consumers that prices will not increase on the shelves despite the increase in the cost of raw materials. “We did have a price increase recently and the reason that we had a price increase is because for years we never had one and there was an increase in energy costs, increase in shipping, increase in raw material costs.
“So therefore we could not continue to sustain that and in some cases we weren’t even breaking even in some of the items that we sell. So we increased pricing moderately so that at the end of the day that we can make some type of profit and contribution so we can pay the people who work for us,” he said.
Fagan hopes that the cost of production does not skyrocket.
The new value increases for farmers have been effective from August 1, 2010 and Fagan said that the supply of limes have bettered since then. “Since we have been publishing the new prices, we’ve had an increase in the amount of limes that we’re picking up. And it’s not nearly anywhere near the amount that we intend to buy from the market but it’s a start,” the managing director said.
Fagan hopes that there will be even more fruits and vegetable in the coming months as the company will seek to conduct several educational programs in farming communities soon. He is convinced that the quality of raw materials here are far superior to that of some developed countries.
Bello is seeking to build stronger relationship with the Dominican farmers and government, Fagan said.
He sees the government as a partner in the initiative.