Sunday, October 10, 2010



( Two airports need refrigerators PLEASE! )

Chocolate bars and candies can be a perishable product for internal shipping in Belize. A lot of the shipping by the four Southern Chocolate makers is done by AIR FREIGHT. They tell me by TROPIC AIR. They have asked me to publish something about the need for a REFRIGERATOR at the CENTRAL FARM AIRSTRIP and also at the BELMOPAN airstrip. They are currently debating among the four major chocolate, small candy makers, their joint problems with DISTRIBUTION in BELIZE. The problem with air freight, is cargo gets bumped and flights get cancelled and postponed to another day and wholesalers who will pick up and distribute at the airstrips, serving the TWIN TOWNS, SPANISH LOOKOUT area and the towns around the Western Cayo district, waste $10 a gallon gasoline running around, trying to pick up air freight that is perishable, but can often require multiple trips to the airstrips to actually collect it. As it does not arrive on schedule or time. The expenses in time, labor and fuel and wear and tear, take away any profit margin and the costs can escalate and actually lose you money. Chocolate manufacturers want overnight refrigeration storage in Central Farm airstrip and Belmopan airstrip to be able to sell their products in the CAYO DISTRICT.

Hi Ray

Your story below certainly rang a few bells for me!
You have really had all the experiences with your book that we are experiencing now.
I think of all the talent not being utilized in this country!

Distribution can be a total nightmare, and we have certainly had our share.
We have had an area "distributor" just run off with a large amount of our product in the past, sell it all in a very popular tourist destination, totally misrepresenting our product with heightened prices, and of course keeping all $$ for himself, despite what we thought was a very good commission per box, at our regular more reasonable price.
We heard through the grapevine about him posing as our chocolate maker!

We have had refrigerated trucks take the chocolate up north only to forget to stop & deliver to distributor waiting for it.
Of course the truck came back with chocolate, thankfully still in good condition.
We have had theft, confusion, and problems with credit & collection --which you seem quite familiar with!
In fact, when dealing with accountants of the many places that retail our product, they often joke with me about "credit discrepancies"--which should not be a joke, it is very serious, "discrepancy" being a polite word for theft when accountants use it.
Clerks receiving product report 1 or 2 boxes missing, distributor claiming entire order was delivered, etc.--whatever the real situation, there were a few problems. We try to solve them as they arise.
The distribution problem is very difficult to solve.
How to distribute evenly and fairly throughout this little country without driving & delivering it ourselves?
How to even get it up to you in Santa Elena is a puzzle.
At present we only have it as far north as Corozal, and we are pushing for Orange Walk.
None of the distributors are as dedicated as we are of course, it's not their product.
They don't do much actual promotion, it is all our work.
Really good promotion takes personal effort, free samples, the printed information, contact info, posters, following up, etc.
It takes dedication and work.

I know about the Guatemalan chocolate to cover bananas.
The liquid chocolate is at a stage before tempering, which turns the chocolate into a shiny solid.
I like to drizzle our liquid chocolate on fruit salad personally, very delightful.

By the way, the Chinese supermarkets on the peninsula all carry our chocolate, because I speak Mandarin, being originally from Taiwan!
Yes, we needs all our charm, talents & wits to break into these markets.
We send our product up to Corozal with Western Dairy, which seems like it would work smoothly, but again, it does not always go according to plan. The distributor up there tells us it can take 2 weeks to receive the delivery.
In the meantime, the stores are not happy with this type of delay.
Corozal is our newest area, and only 2 stores carry our product--again, personal promotion is the key.

It was very funny to read your experience with Sears--we had a similar experience with a large Canadian health food company.
They wanted the 100% organic cocoa powder for their granola bars, but the amount they wanted per month was far more than we produced in a year, in fact more than all the beans grown in Belize per year!
so that was good news, and bad news; it was very funny actually.

--We realized how huge the world really is outside Belize.--

It's quite a cozy little country really, hardly even mentioned in international weather news.
I think that is why we all moved here, far from the madding crowds.

Thank you so much for offering to spread the word about our chocolate up there.
Of course all the retailers want credit with a new product, and they will only order 1 box at a time, making delivery that much more difficult & expensive. The distributor would like a large delivery and make a larger commission on each delivery.
We are thinking of a mixed box for those first time retailers, then they can offer a variety to start.
We make a mixed gift box for Christmas which is popular down here & Belize City.
We also have free laminated posters for retailers, usually copies of local artwork ( with artists permission ).
The information I sent you and you very nicely posted on your blog spot is what we send to all retailers.
We try to keep the price even throughout the country, despite different transport costs, we just try to absorb that.

But we have heard that even Marie Sharp has had distribution problems, so we have to expect some problems as well.
It's a great idea to write about the distribution problems for small producers.
It certainly does exist !
I thank you for your candid sharing of your experiences, so glad it was not just us. -UNQUOTE-

One of the problems distributors have is they need to be insured or should be. BONDED they call it in the USA. I believe it took my daughter Sharon in Miami a lot of years to move up the BONDED insured ladder from a few hundred thousand dollars to MILLIONS of dollars, in order to qualify for STATE and FEDERAL bids on contracts for landscaping. Insurance is based on character, reputation and performance over time.
The insurance companies need to offer insurance BONDS for drivers working for distributors and the distributors themselves who deal with CASH collections, or contractors wanting to bid on construction jobs. To insure the producer manufacturer against loss. Not only for the CASH to be collected, but also for the product that may be stolen. The country is growing fast and we need to move with the times, to grease the wheels of commerce and economic activity.

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