Del Huerto is dedicated to processing and marketing of fruits and vegetables to restaurants. The company processes vegetables and fruits that meet quality standards for human consumption as well as the technical requirements of its customers, mainly restaurants in the Valle del Cauca in South-West of Colombia.
Del Huerto y Más S.A.S. is a Colombian company based in Cali. Established in 2008, the company specializes in processing fruits and vegetables, encompassing cutting, cleaning, disinfection, cold chain refrigeration, and packaging. By optimizing and enhancing hygiene and safety protocols, as well as the preparation of dishes and recipes, the company contributes significantly to the food industry. Furthermore, Del Huerto actively markets these processed products to numerous prominent restaurants. Its primary clientele in the Valle del Cauca region is situated in five major cities: Cali, Palmira, Buga, Tuluá, and Yumbo.
The company is a family business where the majority shareholding belongs to the family and Truvalu has become a partner. Lilia Marcela Torres and Marlon Sánchez both have at least 15 years of experience in the sector and run the company. Together they identified an opportunity for Del Huerto to establish a link with an important franchise in Colombia with good growth potential. Marlon Sánchez acts as the general manager.
Del Huerto employs 19 dedicated individuals, ensuring that they receive salaries above the minimum wage in Colombia, along with all relevant benefits. It’s worth noting that half of the workforce consists of women.
The company places great importance on the role played by small producers who supply their raw materials. Currently, Del Huerto collaborates with a network of over 53 small producers from various regions in Colombia. Many of these producers operate in areas marked by security issues and poverty.
As the General Manager, Marlon Sanchez actively visits the rural production areas to verify product quality and negotiates deals that are mutually beneficial for both the smallholders and Del Huerto. The company is committed to providing training to these producers in agricultural packaging and transportation practices to maintain the quality and distinctive value of their offerings.
In 2022, Del Huerto sourced approximately 50% of its income from purchasing raw materials from small producers, amounting to around EUR 205,000. This translates to an average monthly income of EUR 330 per producer.
Looking ahead to 2023, the company is exploring the possibility of integrating a producer association located in Nariño, which would expand its positive impact to 75 additional producers.
Del Huerto’s portfolio includes vegetables and fruits: onion, lettuce, tomatoes, peppers, carrots, oranges, among others. Although vegetables and fruits are the core of the business, they have also ventured into the marketing of other types of products such as pulp and dairy products.
The differential offered by the company compared to its competitors is seen in the production process. The plant has the capacity to prepare different cuts, shapes and sizes: julienne cuts, grated, pulp, slices, cubes or rings.
Del Huerto has demonstrated a profound understanding of its clients’ requirements and needs. These clients highly value the concept of integrating the value chain, take responsibility for providing suitable conditions for producers and employees, and recognize that creating jobs is crucial for avoiding armed conflicts in Colombia.
Furthermore, the company has excelled in designing and offering a diverse range of products, available in various presentations and combinations. These offerings simplify the process of assembling and cooking food at different points of sale for their clients, allowing them to concentrate on what truly matters.
In terms of logistics, Del Huerto stands out from its competitors. It efficiently reaches eight gastronomic centers in the City of Cali on a daily basis, effectively controlling the delivery costs and offering competitive prices. This logistical advantage sets them apart in the market.
The company closed the last quarter of 2022 with a positive EBITDA, marking the first such achievement since the pandemic and the national strike in Colombia. Similarly, in the first quarter of this year, it achieved an EBITDA of 6% and a net profit of 3%. Although the sales projections in nominal value were not met, the target returns were achieved, thanks to an underlying philosophy the entrepreneur always held during the process. It’s not just about selling more; it’s about selling better. This approach allows the company to attract customers who recognize and are willing to pay for the added value that Del Huerto offers. This added value is based on quality, compliance, closeness, and traceability.
Despite the challenges the company has faced in recent years, various scenarios have been analyzed to avoid sacrificing the impact it generates on small producers. The company is also exploring alternatives to establish a more solid foundation by collaborating with producer associations instead of relying solely on conventional suppliers.
The company works to strengthen its commercial team in order to reach more clients in the Department of Valle del Cauca, including retail, hotels. In addition, it considers direct sales to clients. For all clients it maintains the focus on addressing the need for products that are transformed according to the customers’ specifications. The company will keep looking for a win-win result for the small holders involved.