The National Supermarket Association is getting ready to launch the “Marca País” campaign in partnership with the government of the Dominican Republic, to promote Dominican products through supermarkets that are members of the NSA, on the East Coast of the United States.
In an interview with Abasto Magazine, José Geraldo, executive director of the National Supermarket Association, spoke about the trip to Santo Domingo by three NSA leaders, at the beginning of March, to attend the HUB Cámara Santo Domingo trade fair. They also had meetings with the Dominican authorities to work on the launch of the “Marca País” campaign.
More than 200 Dominican and international companies participated in the trade fair. The Centro de Exportación e Inversión de República Dominicana (Cei-RD) coordinated the participation of more than 80 international buyers in the business rounds and meetings with Dominican businessmen in order to know and acquire locally produced items.
Abasto Magazine: What was the reason for the trip to the Dominican Republic?
José Geraldo: In the Dominican Republic, an event called Hub was being organized by the Chamber of Commerce of Santo Domingo and the Cei-RD. They invited us to participate representing the Association, to give a little color to that event where the private sector encourages local companies to export.
AM: Why the trade interest of the members of the NSA with the Dominican Republic?
JG: The majority of independent store owners who are members of the NSA are of Dominican origin. Therefore, it is essential to create that business relationship between the owners of supermarkets, here in the US and the companies that produce Dominican goods, because there are approximately two million Dominicans in the United States. Most are located in the northeast and southeast of the country, in New York and Florida, so it is essential that products that are of Dominican origin are sold in our stores.
AM: What types of products are exported from the Dominican Republic and are found in your supermarkets?
JG: Day by day more Dominican products come to our markets. There are distribution companies, including large corporations such as Goya, which already manufacture products of Dominican origin, which are packaged under the name of Goya or other brands. The reality is that there are many agricultural products that the country is trying to export and that here in our stores sell very well, such as bananas, mango, avocado.
AM: Who traveled to Santo Domingo?
JG: William Rodriguez, the national president of the NSA, Nelson Eusebio, who is the director of governmental affairs and I, as executive director, attended the trade fair.
AM: What was the NSA agenda during the fair?
JG: We had a well defined agenda, we met with several companies in the Hub but we also met with the Cei-RD, to whom we proposed our initiatives on the “Marca País” campaign, the partnership we will have with the Dominican State through the Dominican Consulate in New York.
AM: What does this association mean?
JG: The NSA supermarkets would support Dominican products that reach our stores. We would give them a specific space to support that product and in relation to that, the Dominican State would create an incentive through the Consulate in NY to promote Dominican brands. The CEI-RD will facilitate the processes to the Dominican companies so that they can export and at the same time have representation in our trade fair that we do in New York, which this year will be on August 21 at the Resort World Casino. The agreement is in the process of being finalized and it is expected that the President of the Dominican Republic, Danilo Medina, will sign it before the month of June.
AM: What other meetings did you hold in Santo Domingo?
JG: We also met with the president of BHD Bank, engineer Luis Molina Achecar, we talked about several initiatives to promote Dominican culture abroad and using our business as a vehicle for promotion. At the same time, we talk about some projects in the banking industry that concerns our stores, where the Dominican community can make money transfers directly from our businesses, to their accounts and to their relatives in the Dominican Republic.
AM: What results did you achieve in this business trip?
JG: The main thing was to achieve the partnership with the Dominican State and with CEI-RD because that’s where the “Marca País” campaign came from. At the same time, the relationship we had with BHD Bank was very positive and we also met with Arroz Rico Company, which is one of the suppliers of Dominican products that we sell in our supermarkets, to strengthen commercial relationships. And we will be returning to the Dominican Republic to participate in the Agrifood Fair, which takes place from May 5 to 12. It is possible that during this trip we met with the Dominican president for the signing of the “Marca País” partnership.