Walmart Puerto Rico announced it will seek to increase its purchases of local products by $20 million over the next five years, to add to its ongoing support of island manufacturers, company officials said during a news conference.
Currently, of the $1.6 billion in annual purchases from about 300 suppliers, distributors and companies located in Puerto Rico, Walmart invests around $500 million in locally manufactured or harvested products.
The new $20 million additional investment seeks to continue substituting imported products with local ones, said Viviana Mercado, senior manager of corporate affairs for Walmart Puerto Rico.
“Our company remains focused on continuing to increase the business relationship with local suppliers through our three store formats, Walmart, Sam’s Club and Amigo Supermarkets, to encourage the creation of jobs in the area of agriculture and manufacturing on the island,” she said.
As part of the initiative, the retailer has developed a decal that it will be placing on shelves at its local Walmart and Amigo stores to identify local products. Sam’s has a separate logo that it has been using for some time for the same purpose.
“Promoting the growth of local businesses has a multiplier effect on Puerto Rico’s economic development,” she said. “We know first-hand about the quality of the products harvested and manufactured on the island and the commitment of those entrepreneurs to contribute to improve the quality of life through their businesses.”
She said 80 percent of the products on Walmart store shelves are made, produced or manufactured in Puerto Rico.
First ‘Open Call’ event planned
Walmart Puerto Rico will seek to draw more local suppliers by hosting the first “Open Call” event on the island, through which through which providers or potential local suppliers will have the opportunity to present new products to store buyers of during one-on-one meetings.
The Open Call is specifically aimed at new suppliers from the farming and manufacturing industries. Companies interested in participating have until Oct. 10 to register, through a website designed for the event. There they will find the requirements and registration information.
“We want to emulate what our parent company does. Earlier this year, we traveled with nine local suppliers, and all of them secured contracts to export their products to stateside stores,” said Rosana Díaz, senior merchandising director of Walmart Puerto Rico.
It will be held Nov. 12, from 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at the Puerto Rico Convention Center. The retailer expects between 150 and 200 suppliers to take a shot at presenting their goods to would-be store buyers, she said.
“Because the call closes on Oct. 10, we have a full month to analyze the participations and determine how many buyers we’ll need for the event,” she said.