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A key location for logistics

The Caribbean coast of Costa Rica has been the country’s main marine trade gateway since the early 1900s.

The port is receiving a $1 billion investment that will enable a state-of-the-art facility to further serve the deeper Panamax freightliners.

  • Food Industry
  • Light Manufacturing
  • Transportation, logistics & services
The South
  • 286,083 population
  • 63% under 35 years old
  • 131,031 labor force
  • 28% with high school education
  • 9% with university education

About the region

Just a few hours from the Panama Canal and with quick access to the Caribbean as well as the main ports in the US Eastern seaboard, Limon offers an ideal location.

Also under way, is a proposal to build a $6 billion transshipment facility by a consortium of 4 companies, AECOM, L3 Security, CMA and CDG which is called AMEGA. It will take freight from vessels too large to enter the Panama Canal and ship it by rail to large freighters on the Pacific Ocean -- or vice versa.
In the city of Turrialba, further activities are taking place in production manufacturing. Turrialba is not only close to the Port of Limon, but it is also about 45 minutes from Cartago, home of Costa Rica’s Technological Institute, one of the nation’s leading universities and a hub of skilled talent in engineering, software development and other key technical areas.

The Caribbean coast is also known as the “fruit bowl” of the world. Costa Rica is the #1 exporter of golden pineapple to the world, servicing the US and European markets, and it is also the third largest banana producer and supplier to the world.

Recent innovations in organic cacao plantations, diverse tropical crops, and a global trend for sustainable agriculture and carbon neutral cultivation, all make the region a prime location for food industries looking to source the best of the best for their gourmet, premium food products.

Several multinationals are present in the region including Chiquita and Dole. But other industry leaders in advanced food processing include Fructa, Tropifoods and Alca Trading, most located in the areas surrounding the town of Siquirres, and leading active, high-tech operations where purees and juices are made under the most rigorous certifications including HACCP, Rainforest Alliance, USDA Organic, among several others. And they are shipping the final goods from Costa Rica to their customers worldwide.

Turrialba has proven its success in industrial manufacturing, hosting companies like Rawlings where the official 2.4 million baseballs for Major League Baseball games are handcrafted with the utmost precision. Rawlings, a subsidiary of Newell Brands, is also operating an English-speaking customer service call center.

Success story

Alca Trading

Started operations: 2013Sector: Food IndustryCountry: Ecuador

Alca Trading Corp is the world’s largest supplier of aseptic banana puree among other food specialties including juices, tropical fruit purees, concentrates, frozen and IQF products.

Although its primary headquarters are in Miami, Florida, the company operates under three key facilities and brands. Banalight in Ecuador, established in 1993 is currently the largest producer and exporter of aseptic banana pure in that country and also produces aseptic mango puree as well as special products upon request. Its sister plant in Guatemala operating under Tropilight was created in 2007 and, in addition to tropical purees, produces frozen and IQF tropical fruits.

Its latest addition was Frutilight in 2013, the Costa Rican plant or as it’s internally called: the company’s “2.0 facility”. This state-of-the-art plant in Siquirres, near the Caribbean Coast, shelters the latest European and American technology in food processing. It also embeds all the know-how from building its two other facilities for ideal production design and layout. A sophisticated aseptic line provides a 70,000 metric tons capacity per year for banana and mango purees and pineapple juices.In addition to its FDA (US Foods & Drug Administration) and AIJN (European Fruit juice Association) compliance, this facility also operates with certifications for FSSC 22000, HACCP, ISO 22000 and 14001, SFG IRMA, Kosher, M HALAL, Rain Forest Alliance, BCS OKO Garantie, JAS BCS OKO Garantie, USDA Organic, Canada Organic, Bio Suisse Approved, BASC and C-TPAT.This challenging task is not only impressive in itself. Most striking was the 6 month timeframe in which the company was able to achieve these 16 seals that attest to its thorough commitment to quality. It also confirms one of the reasons why Alca Trading chose Costa Rica as its third operational hub: a highly skilled labor force that learns quickly and is capable of performing under the most rigorous of working environments.

Alca Trading wanted to diversify its locations and balance its operations for a quicker response to market. Costa Rica was a natural fit not only because of its great access to premium produce grown locally, but also because of its ideal location and beneficial logistics costs which provide easy access to the Caribbean from where it serves the EU, USA and Canada, as well as South America.

The company was able to make a country decision, build its plant and have it fully operational, with 16 certifications included, in only one year. By establishing a clear project roadmap, complying with local requirements and permits, and closely collaborating with local government at a county or municipality level, Alca was able to meet its time goals and bust any “red tape” myths.

Alca now plans to expand its Frutilight operation to incorporate a frozen food line and IQF in the near future, a natural addition to its current food specialty line which caters to the most world renowned brands…and Alca will continue to be their top secret ingredient!

Interested to learn more about the region? Download document