Walmart Puerto Rico has reached an agreement with agribusiness Gargiulo Farms in Santa Isabel, to buy more than 9,000 pounds of pineapples weekly, “reaffirming its commitment to the island’s economic and the creation of jobs,” said Viviana Mercado, corporate affairs representative for the retailer.
“Through our Agribusiness Program, we will once again substitute imports for local produce, while reiterating the promise to our customers to offer fresh quality products every day,” said Mercado.
Dedicated to harvesting tomatoes for more than 30 years, Gargiulo Farms began growing pineapples, specifically the MD-2 variety, two years ago.
During that time, the company conducted feasibility tests and this is the first time they have enough pineapples to break into the local market, said Guillermo Fernández, general manager of the agricultural company,
He said Gargiulo Farms, with its payroll of 10 full-time employees, may be able to increase its workforce to the extent that it plants more acress of land and Walmart buys its fruit.
“To date we have invested more than $350,000 in this project. With Walmart’s help, this initiative has become reality, allowing us to, in turn, to have the confidence to continue to invest and continue to create jobs,” Fernández said.
Walmart, Amigo and Sam’s Club will buy more than 180,000 pounds of pineapple between August and December of this year, to supply the demand at most of its local stores. Over the next two years, Gargiulo Farms expects to double the size of the land it has set aside for pineapple production.
“Through our efforts to promote the export of Puerto Rico products, Walmart also will be an ally for this company, so that once it increases production, they can export pineapples to our stores and clubs in the U.S. mainland,” said Mercado.
Walmart launched its Agribusiness Program in 2008 with just 40 growers, and now has more than 500 agribusiness signed up and generates more than 2,000 direct jobs throughout the island.