Following a five-year absence from the local market, Industrias Lecheras de Puerto Rico will again sell its traditional white cheese in more than 3,000 establishments, including supermarkets, gas stations and grocery stores, Larry Lugo-Cruz, president of the company known as Indulac said.
“The island’s consumers appreciate Indulac’s local white cheese because of its flavor, consistency and versatility in the kitchen. It is a product with a strong heritage among consumers who were always asking for it. Now it is available in most supermarkets and grocery stores all over the island,” said Lugo-Cruz.
This year, Indulac will use more than 526,000 quarts of fresh milk to produce its white cheese. For 2014, the company estimates it will increase production to 2 million quarts of milk.
“This is good news for dairy farmers who are betting on the future of the local industry while we continue to make it grow in spite of competition from foreign products,” said Juan Carlos Rivera, president of the Puerto Rico Farm Bureau’s dairy sector.
“This new product will contribute to minimize excess milk while it continues to open the market for dairy products and its by-products made with local milk,” he said.
To re-introduce its flagship product to the local market, Indulac made a $150,000 investment to refurbish its manufacturing plant in Hato Rey. For 2014, the organization will increase that investment to continue generating efficiencies and develop other products, company officials said.
In this first phase, the project has generated nine direct jobs and next year expects to create 11 additional jobs for a total of 20 jobs in two years.
“Next year, we have plans to introduce other formats of our white cheese as well as other dairy products. Our goal is to minimize the decreasing tendency of local dairy products which we have experienced in the last fourteen years and move the local dairy industry to grow once more,” stated Lugo-Cruz.
The executive indicated that this new product launch is part of Indulac’s strategic plan to continue growing and facing the challenges of the segment.
“2014 is the first year of this plan, anchored in growth and diversification. We are going to introduce a variety of UHT dairy products with other cheese varieties in the local market. Also, our projections point to a growth in exports, especially in the Caribbean basin,” said Lugo-Cruz.
Puerto Rico produces some 275 million quarts of milk each year of which 225 million are for fresh milk sales. The 50 million in excess is used to process Indulac’s UHT milk, to manufacture private label UHT milk and for exports to countries like United States, Panama, St. Thomas, St. Croix and Dominican Republic.
Dairy production is Puerto Rico main agricultural segment with some 300 farms producing about $235.1 million, or 29.8 percent of the island’s total agricultural gross income, according to the Milk Industry Regulatory Office. The sector generates more than 25,000 direct and indirect Jobs in the manufacturing and sale of related products.