And just like that, Plus3 Costa Rica is complete! These two weeks flew by, but it also feels like forever ago that I was writing my first blog post. I learned so much through this experience and had a blast too! This course was all about supply chain and the area that I specifically focused on was source.
When visiting different coffee, banana, and pineapple farms, we learned the importance of sourcing in the supply chain process. Without bringing in materials and labor, farms simply could not run. One interesting thing we learned was that nearly all of the coffee pickers come from Nicaragua, as it is a very strenuous job that Ticos do not want to do. Since the Nicaraguans are leaving their homes to go work on the farms, they are usually provided with housing, food, and daycare for the children which adds extra costs to their labor.
After the farms get all the materials and labor needed to operate, they are able to successfully harvest their crop. The farms then need to export this crop, and they do so through the use of shipping containers. These containers are, you guessed it, imported from other countries. This is because it is less expensive to source the containers out of country. However, during the pandemic it created many issues as there global shortages that caused a significant delay in springing and the farms has to switch to local producers.
Next, the farms act as sources to the coffee roasters and retail stores. Coffee, banana, and pineapple farms obviously want to make a profit off of their crop and they do this by selling it to places that will make their product available to the public. This step is crucial in the supply chain process as it must be done very delicately. For coffee, farms have to make sure they provide the best quality beans, which are the red ones. For bananas and pineapples, farms must handle the fruits very carefully so as not to bruise them because that could cause the whole shipment to be sent back.
The final step in the supply chain process is sourcing the product to the customers. While this sounds very simple, it actually may be one of the most difficult parts. Each company must make their product attractive enough to the customers so that they will pick it over other competing companies. This relates to marketing, packaging, product placement, etc. Without customers buying the product, the whole process all the way back to growing the crops is useless. We learned about the importance of customer loyalty and good branding, two things can really give a company a competitive edge in their market.
To conclude, learning about the supply chains of coffee, bananas, and pineapples has truly been fascinating and it is something that I haven’t really thought about before when I’m grabbing Starbucks or shopping for fruit. I definitely have a newfound respect for this process of farm to customer and hope that I have provided some insight to that through my blogs! I’m sad that these two weeks are over, but so grateful for the time that I was able to spend here, making some of the best memories of my life. Thank you, Costa Rica!