Natural Awakenings-Puerto Rico magazine held its “Natural Choice” awards this weekend, bestowing its “Yummy Award” (Local Edible Product), to Orgánica Yogurt and its founder, Antonio Castro-Barreto. It is the second time the entrepreneur has received the distinction, and his company is the only one in Puerto Rico to have it, Orgánica officials said.
Natural Awakenings is a publication containing all products and services in Puerto Rico dedicated to a better life through natural food and healthy lifestyles.
“Orgánica yogurts are otherwordly,” said Waleska Sallaberry, the magazine’s editor. “I enjoy seeing people’s faces when they take a bite to their mouth. Their delight is simply a sublime experience.”
Five years ago, at 23, Castro-Barreto began developing his idea of creating a healthy, different and natural yogurt made entirely in Puerto Rico. With no culinary experience, he began to burn milk and read about fermentation and bacterial cultures.
Initially, he produced 20 units per week, but as he steadily continued to perfect his recipe, demand increased and it he began diversifying its flavors. Today, his company produces 100,000 yogurt units annually in 12 flavors, including coffee, chocolate, mango and passion fruit, all 100 percent natural fruit with no preservatives or additives, he said.
Orgánica yogurt is sold at coffee shops and bakeries islandwide, including Los Cidrines, Café Cuatro Sombras and Starbucks.
About a month ago, he began diversifying further, creating the “Nola” granola bar product line made with natural oats, seeds and honey.
“I recently I tried the granola bars and he did it again with an exquisite product,” Sallaberry said. “For me it is a joy to see how Antonio has progressed so quickly and that Puerto Ricans are supporting our products.”
The entrepreneur’s future plans include purchasing new manufacturing equipment for Orgánica’s plant, offering products in supermarket chains and creating small franchises.