Walmart Puerto Rico continues to expand the variety and quantity of local products and services offered to the public in its stores across the island as a result of the Puerto Rico Open Call, it announced.
This program, which was carried out for the second year in a row, is part of a platform that helps grow local entrepreneurs and, at the same time, expand the chain’s portfolio of suppliers.
The company signed commercial agreements with 92 local agricultural and industrial entrepreneurs and professional services providers, including 61 new suppliers, said Viviana Mercado, senior manager of Corporate Affairs at Walmart Puerto Rico.
Of the businesses that reached agreements with the chain, 20 are women-owned.
The value of these agreements represents a “significant increase in the annual purchase of local products and services,” which contributes to fulfill the commitment that Walmart announced last year that by 2023, this investment would increase by an additional $20 million, Mercado said.
“Our Puerto Rico Open Call program serves as a commercial platform for suppliers of local products and services to expose, develop and grow their businesses,” she said.
“We’re very satisfied with the result of this initiative, which in two years has helped grow more than 200 entrepreneurs from different industries and services, while also impacting the socioeconomic development of Puerto Rico,” said Mercado, adding that the program includes business training and development of business skills.
Another benefit that Walmart offers to local suppliers is that their products and services are identified with the Walmart “Hecho Aquí, para ti” (“Made Here, for you”) seal, to promote their sale, the executive added.
In addition, as a sponsor of the Puerto Rico Products Association, Walmart urges its local suppliers to become a member of this entity so that they can also distinguish their products and services with the “Made in Puerto Rico” seal, she said.
The new products, which will be on sale in stores, include general merchandise such as ladies’ accessories, personal hygiene products, dresses, medicinal plants, postcards, pet products and educational books.
In addition, innovative food products will be offered, such as veggie burgers, flavored butter, antipastos, vegan tortillas, low carb strawberry cheesecake, meat substitutes, and grass-fed meats. Also, some of the stores will have an area for Universal Solar Products to sale its solar heaters and water tanks, she said.
Currently, 80% of the merchandise sold in Walmart stores (Walmart, Amigo Supermarkets and Sam’s Club) on the island is harvested, produced, manufactured or distributed in Puerto Rico, which represents an annual investment of approximately $1.6 billion.
For her part, Jenniffer Garland, director of merchandising at Walmart Puerto Rico, said, “we’re proud and excited to welcome these new suppliers, with whom we will continue to work hand in hand to ensure that their products and services are successful in our chain, to support the strengthening and growth of their companies.”
Through the Open Call, the company also seeks to expand the variety of products offered to clients under its “Marketside” and “Great Value” private brands, which also represents an important support for local manufacturing, Garland said.
Some of the new products that will be sold under these brands are: fresh salads, Puerto Rican cheese, spices, snacks and chips, and marinades.
In addition to the opportunity to present their products to Walmart buyers, the agricultural and industrial entrepreneurs and professional services providers that participated received training in sales, marketing and distribution, and mentoring by managers of the chain in Puerto Rico.
In the first Puerto Rico Open Call held last year, Walmart reached $3 million in trade agreements with 91 new local suppliers.