One of the daily activities that changed since the pandemic was the way that consumers purchase groceries. The fear of contagion, the reduction in the capacity of people inside a supermarket added to the lines that this brought as a consequence, caused many people to start shopping online, or that those who had entered into this practice, did it a lot plus.
In this new way of approaching the product market, one of the platforms that achieved surprising and immediate growth was Puerto Rico Produce (PRroduce!) that during the first week that the government established the total closure in March, it added around 20,000 new users. Currently there are 41,500 people who use the service that is summarized in: accessing the digital platform, choosing the desired local products, paying and waiting between one to three days for a delivery person to deliver it to the house, anywhere on the Island.
“Just before the pandemic it happened that we wanted to acquire more users, so we had invested in the ads and with the ads we expected there to be an increase, but when the pandemic hits, that comes and accelerates to a point that was much of what we could have predicted and there comes the decision, ‘Should we stop this or continue?’ ”shared Francisco Tirado, CTO of PRoduce! and one of the four founding partners of this service network.
The other creators are Martín Louzao (Open Kitchen chef); Patricio Schames (also a partner at Cinco Sentidos), and Crystal Díaz.
Produces! began to take shape in February 2018, but it was not until October 4 of the same year that what was the first stage was activated: satisfying the need for local products in restaurant kitchens and for this, they created a link between chefs and producers.
They comment that they prefer to use the term producers instead of farmers to be more inclusive and cover all processors, in addition to fishermen.
“We made a thousand mistakes, we saw what did not work, what did, and in that historical moment we decided that the most important thing was to start building a relationship with the producers, so we said, ‘We are going to do something that provides consistency in the purchase. ‘and at that moment what was called the Produce Home Box was born, which was the subscription, ”Díaz explained. With the subscription, people received at home a box with a variety of 100% local products, but they could not choose them.
This is how they worked for about a year and at the end of 2019, they reconsidered the application in search of strengthening the connection between chefs and producers. 2020 arrived, with it the pandemic, and the users hit.
The application offers 600 items, which are divided into eight categories: fruits and vegetables, drinks, pantry and others, snacks and bread, beauty and health, alcohol, eggs and dairy, and meat and fish. They also offer 300 recipes made with local products and have a goal of reaching 1,000.
All products offered are “cured” or tested before they are made available to consumers.
The PRoduce! It brings together 50 employees and they currently operate from a station in Carolina.
“Although we have reached 40 thousand users in recent months, we want to grow that as much as possible; give an alternative to people who want to buy local, ”Tirado said.