Sunday, January 13, 2013

Calling all Cookie Monsters…Costa Rica’s most Famous Cookie Company!

If you’ve ever traveled in Costa Rica, you likely are familiar with Pozuelo products. Perhaps you didn’t even realize it, but if you’ve eaten cookies, crackers, small cakes or other dessert treats off store shelves, then you have surely been eating products of the famous Pozuelo Group! Easily one of the most respected brands in Costa Rica, Riviana Pozuelo has been an integral part of “snacking” in Costa Rica for an amazing 95 years!!

History of the Cookie:
One of the first widely known “foods” worldwide are commonly known as “cookies”. Starting as a kind of long lived flat bread, this food item was most often distributed to crews of ships, as well as groups of soldiers whether out on the high seas or fighting on the battlefield. These days, the term “cookie” can refer to a wide range of food products consisting of a wide variety of shapes and flavors, and most often produced in private homes, bakeries or in larger industrial factory operations. The technical definition of “cookies” (also sometimes referred to as “biscuits”) states according to the Dictionary of Nutrition and Food Technology that "cookies” are products containing very little moisture, consisting of flour and being rich in fat and sugar. (Yummy!) A further reference in the Spanish Dictionary lists the “cookie” as deriving from a 1636 French word "galette" (galleta in Spanish) in which they are considered to be an unleavened bread product.

In more primitive times, the use of raw forms of flour enabled ancient tribes and nomads to prepare a hardened dough that although not particularly palatable, was travel friendly and easily stored with no refrigeration or special preservation measures. Before that, the grains had simply been finely ground and eaten by mixing with water or milk, and forming a kind of porridge. Upon the discovery of fire, “man” used this doughy mixture to form the first unleavened bread, shaping it into small cakes or round cookies, spreading it on hot flat stones, then covering them during the cooking process, resulting in what we would consider equivalent to our most basic cookies or crackers of today. Frankly, the new ability to “cook” the biscuits drastically transformed this food’s overall quality, quantity, durability and most importantly, it’s taste, forever guaranteeing the cookie’s place in food history!

Who is Riviana Pozuelo anyway?
One of the leading companies in Costa Rica, their success is the result of the extensive efforts by a well trained staff of employees whose goal is to produce daily world-class biscuits or cookies. Their human resource strategy has created a company culture based on productivity and high standards of customer service and consumer satisfaction. DCR Pozuelo Cookie Company S.A. is a subsidiary of Grupo Nacional de Chocolates S.A., focusing on the production and marketing of cookies and crackers for domestic consumption in Costa Rica and increasingly more and more for export worldwide. Located in one of the most recognized industrial zones in Costa Rica called La Uruca, folks can “smell” the company as they drive through this area located on the outskirts of the capital city of San Jose. Pozuelo also has regional warehouses located throughout the country and for many years this company has been exporting a high percentage of their production throughout Central America, Panama, the Caribbean and the Latin American communities in the United States.

Commitment to Quality:
Since the inception of this prestigious company, Pozuelo has worked to provide their customers the best cookies, crackers and snack foods, always meeting the highest standards of national and international quality. Based on this commitment, Cookie Company DCR Pozuelo, S.A. obtained the ISO-9002 : 94 quality standard in August 1999, after several years of dedicated work and production changes by it’s employees. The certification was given by INTECO (Standards Institute of Costa Rica) and AENOR (Spanish Association for Standardization), two internationally recognized entities. Subsequently, the development of the new version of ISO standards, the DCR Pozuelo Cookie Company in 2002 obtained recertification with an even higher international quality standard of ISO-9001: 2000.

Business History:
With the idea to offer a product of unparalleled flavor and texture, in the year 1919, businessman Felipe Pozuelo, a Spanish national, founded a biscuit factory in the small town of San Jose, Costa Rica. Thus was born the "Cookie & Confectionery
Factory Felipe Pozuelo and Sons Ltd". Originally only a small building located on the well known street of Paseo Colon in front of the Hospital San Juan de Dios, in 1949, due to growth and the need to meet the high demand for their products, the owners were forced to expand their infrastructure and factory machinery. To that end, acquired in 1960, land situated at the perimeter of the capital city in La Uruca, became the new home to Pozuelo Cookie & Confectionery and their offices and production factory remain in this same location to this day. In 1964, the company was sold to Grace & Co. and six years later, in 1970, was acquired by the U.S. company Riviana Foods, Inc., out of Houston, Texas. Since that adquisition, all products made by the Company are now marked with the label "Riviana Pozuelo". With that well needed cash infusion, this food company has continued to expand it’s services, product line, while working with its subsidiary, Grupo Nacional de Chocolates S.A., they continue invest in food companies based in Colombia and have expanded to become a part of the conglomerate known as Grupo Empresarial Antioquia.

Company Activities:
Riviana Pozuelo is a company which over the years has been characterized by its great interest in broadening channels of communication and relationships with its customers. To do this, Pozuelo created a series of Educational Events, with team leaders in charge of giving visitors a tour of their factory, as well as having a team of Special Events Coordinators to develop different activities in the market further engaging customers and consumers, while enabling the company to reward their customers for their loyalty and preference for their products. Some of the activities are designed as a collaboration to increase sales overall. Examples of this include the “Ruta del Sabor” and “Cookie Week”. Other events like the Tour Chiky ® and "Growing Together Cremito ®, focuses on bringing fun and learning to their valued consumers.

Educational Events:
Riviana Pozuelo invites teachers to bring their students for educational tours of the cookie and cracker factory to learn the process of production of their many delicious sweet products. This educational tour is part of an overall strategy in their Sales and Marketing department, likely forever etching the brand in the minds of all Costa Rican children, guaranteeing future sales of their sugary products! This tour is conducted in the "World of Fantasy Cookie Pozuelo ®”, a specially designed room that welcomes visitors from throughout the country, creating a fun and informative learning environment for students and their teachers.

Cookie Week:
Cookie Week consists of fun filled promotional activities inviting consumers to try the different Pozuelo products be it in store front promotions, stands at special events, or the “Caravan Parade” where clowns and other company mascots put on a show, provide free products and have an extensive give away known as "muuuucha galleta." (Lot’s of cookie.) The company also arranges performances at school events, where children enjoy the show known as “Growing Together with Cremito Pozuelo”®. So watch for Riviana Pozuelo items at your local supermarkets, where you can often find special product promotions, contests, raffles for great prizes and even win free trips!!

Route of Flavor:
The “Ruta de Sabor” is a similar activity run during a single day, a weekend or sometimes for a week, at which the company offers extraordinary activities and attractive promotions for customers. The Taste Trail serves to increase sales and strengthen the business image for their customers.

Growing Together in School Program:
The Growing Together program began more than fifteen years ago. It is designed to have contact with the elementary students at their own school, using fun-filled activities, contests and prizes, including "muuuucha galleta." (Lots of cookie!) Its main objective is to promote values important to the development of children such as respect, humility, honesty, responsibility, ethics, morality and family bonds among others. It also seeks to develop a positive mindset in the social and educational development of all children. The event brings together children, parents and teachers in positive learning environment. The Pozuelo Cookie Company also sponsors events that provide institutions an attractive medium in which to raise funds for good causes, without making any investment or outlay of cash.

Tour Chiky ®:
A complete variety show designed by the Pozuelo team for the older kids of different schools throughout the country. It seeks to motivate the adolescent mental health and enhance athletic and artistic skills in a fun filled environment with many incentives and prizes. This activity offers young people a healthy form of recreation, where teenagers release their energy and encourages positive interactions between peers and teachers, all in an environment that combines the delicious taste of cookies Chiky ® with the best music, animation and entertainment. It is important to note that these events also give schools the opportunity to raise funds for purposes that benefit the school institution.

So is that a great company, or what? Not only does Pozuelo have delicious sugary products, but they hold themselves to a high standard of quality, provide excellent customer service, as well as engaging ways to interact with their consumer base. So the next time you are in your local pulperia, supermarket, Costa Rica hotel, many restaurants in Costa Rica, or visiting friends pantry, don’t forget to look for all the great Rivana Pozuelo cookie, cake, cracker and other YUMMY products…. your taste buds will thank you forever!!

Kimberly Barron, originally from Malibu, California has lived in Parismina and Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica for 20 years. Starting as a certified tour guide, she spent 15 years managing fishing lodges on the Caribbean Coast and later 4* & 5* Hotels on the Pacific Coast of Costa Rica. Currently semi-retired, Kimberly still works as the Marketing Director for Byblos Resort & Casino and Hotel Makanda by the Sea.

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