The aftermath of covid-19 has been felt through supply chains all over the world. 2022 saw companies reconsider their dependence on China leaving an opportunity for Latin America to leverage the North American markets. In addition to covid’s impact and economical concerns of Ukraine and Russia, reorganization of supply chains has made Colombia an ideal candidate for North America’s nearshoring strategy. Through Colombia’s agricultural products and food production, the country is positioning itself as an emerging source for food suppliers globally. As a growing business-friendly economy, the people of Colombia are showing how robust its agricultural operations can be.
‘’We support the development of small and medium-sized farms across the country,’’ shares Juan Felipe Arbelaez, co-founder of Vive Agro, a company servicing their direct-to-consumer customers with products such as at-home recipe kits; and wholesale prepared ingredients to both kitchens and restaurant chains such as Subway, Pizza Hut and Dominos. Colombia is a colourful, lively and thriving country in South America where agriculture is a major industry with large amounts of coffee, bananas, tropical fruits and flowers being exported around the world. There is, however, disparity between the volume of food produced in-country and the sustainability of affordable available food for citizens. Almost six decades of conflict and revolution have led to displacement, inequality and malnutrition threatening food stocks for nationals. According to The UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation, the world needs to improve its food availability by 70% in order to feed its population by 2050. With 235,000 sq miles of available land for agricultural uses, 365 days a year, Colombia has the potential to deliver food security to a very important part of the world. Vive Agro (see appendix A) is a progressive manufacturer of affordable freshly sourced fruit and vegetables who, over the last eleven years or so, has grown to become an employer of 150 staff with 80 clients and approximately 60 farmers around the country. The idea for the business was born from a trip to Spain where founder, Juan Felipe, spent time in Barcelona and saw the business model being executed in the country. Over its lifetime, Vive Agro has purchased and processed more than 61,000 tons of fruit and vegetables. ‘’We select, wash, cut and pack in our state-of-the-art facilities according to our customers’ needs, ensuring that our products are safe, traceable and high quality, ‘’Juan Felipe explains. During the Covid-19 pandemic, demand from their business clients was very low meaning the company needed to quicky innovate a new route to market — and along came their at-home recipe kits. ‘’We deliver products with purpose and cultivate recipe flavours, using our finest vegetables,’ Juan Felipe shares. ‘’We produce bespoke vegetables using clean and responsible farming methods.”
Ultimately, although Vive Agro managed to innovate on the manufacturing of produce in Colombia, supply chain challenges would persist. Manufacturers that are preparing food for in-country consumption comprise of mostly informal suppliers. Informal suppliers in Colombia are ripe with supply chain inefficiencies such as middlemen affecting prices, and the length of time from farm to table with an estimated third becoming spoilage. Vive Agro uses many small and medium farmers from around the country who need to be paid within eight days meaning cashflow needs to be immediately available. Contrasted to this, their large business customers often take a long time to pay, in line with their terms leading to a cashflow discrepancy for Vive Agro. AGC is helping to manage this cashflow momentum to help keep Vive Agro’s business operations moving forward. Through receiving reliable financing, Vive Agro contributes to positive opportunities for impact across the industry to drive smart economic growth.
In collaboration with our Bogota based non-bank financial institutional partner and two years into the four-year relationship with AGC’s partner, Vive Agro’s recent developments include the introduction of a new “individual quick frozen” (IQF) production line where they have begun freezing produce such as tropical fruits and plain vegetables. The IQF facility can produce a total capacity of 1,000 kilos per hour and increase the shelf life of produce of up to 1-2 years without preservatives. The processing facility in Bogota employs 80% women where 50% of them are single mothers. Founder, Juan Felipe says “we offer flexible working which is attractive to female workers. Mothers are really hard workers because they need the money and want to work”. This forms a well-balanced and respectful relationship between employees and employer.
Vive Agro has big plans for 2023 and beyond. The total plant capacity is 18,000 tonnes of produce per year and today Vive Agro is at half of that, 9,000 tonnes per year. With their strategic position near the USA and Canada, and their state-of-the-art manufacturing facility it could open possibilities for nearshoring. The company has impeccable credentials – from the efficiency of their processes and ethical practices, to fair employment opportunities. Vive Agro is truly leading the way in its sector.
Vive agro vegetales listos para consumir (Vive agro – ready-to-eat vegetables): English Transcript
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We believe that there is a link between Colombia’s wellbeing and the sustainability of its rural areas.
That is why we recognise the importance of each and every contribution and promote fair and cohesive relationships.
We support the development of small and medium-sized farms across the country.
WHEN YOU STEP THROUGH THESE DOORS YOU ARE MAKING A DIFFERENCE TO OUR COUNTRY’S future
We select, wash, cut and pack
in our state-of-the-art facilities
and according to our customers’ needs,
ensuring that our products are safe, traceable and high quality.
We deliver products with purpose
and cultivate recipe flavours, using our finest vegetables.
We produce bespoke vegetables using clean and responsible farming methods.