Frosty futures: Valance’s cold chain triumph

IESC Trade Safe grant gives health food producer a chance to advance culinary innovation in the Dominican Republic

Brian and Fred present grant to Valerie

Head of IESC’s Trade Safe project Brian Rudert and USDA’s Fred Giles present cold chain grant to Valerie Garcia of Valance RD Bilanx, S.R.L.

Chef and owner of Valance, Valerie Garcia

Chef and owner of Valance, Valerie Garcia

Valance RD Bilanx, S.R.L. is on the brink of a game-changing transformation thanks to a cold chain equipment grant from IESC’s USDA Food for Progress-funded Trade Safe (TraSa) Project in the Dominican Republic. Known for its innovative approach of using vegetable-based replacements for wheat flour in products like pizzas and kibbehs, Valance offers a range of sugar-free, gluten-free, and low-carb options catering to health-conscious and restricted diet consumers.

Valerie Garcia, chef and owner of Valance, explained on the Trade Safe podcast that the Dominican Republic lacked food brands catering to such consumers. She sought to bridge this gap by offering balanced and nutritious alternatives to highly processed foods.

Freezers in storage room

Before building the cold storage room, Valance relied on five small freezers to store ingredients and products

Before securing a grant from Trade Safe, Garcia’s small business struggled with inadequate cold storage, relying on five small freezers that jeopardized product quality and safety and severely limited storage space. This not only stunted her business’s potential for growth, but also led to high energy costs, making her operation economically unsustainable.

Through Trade Safe, IESC offers an annual cold chain grants program to support small to medium businesses like Valance in purchasing and installing cold chain equipment. The grants program helps to strengthen food safety and energy management in the Dominican Republic’s agricultural supply chain, bolstering the country’s growing logistics sector. With IESC’s support, the grant enabled Garcia to invest in a cold storage room of 30 cubic meters, expanding storage capacity, boosting order volume, enhancing supply chain efficiency, reducing food waste, and lowering energy consumption for her small business.

Cold storage room

IESC Associate Vice President, Trade and Enterprise, Chad Ford and Valerie Garcia stand in front of the newly installed cold storage room

Trade Safe’s investment, alongside Garcia’s own contributions, fortified Valance’s cold chain management capabilities, allowing it to reduce raw material waste by 50%, cut electricity costs by 30%, and multiply its production capacity five times over. IESC projects an internal rate of return of 92% on the cold chain investment, meaning Valance would recover its investment in only 13 months. With IESC’s support through the Trade Safe cold chain grants program, Valance’s strategic investment in its cold chain capacity comes at a pivotal moment as the company eyes both domestic and international markets for its unique and in-demand offerings. With a focus on growth and innovation, Valance RD Bilanx, S.R.L. is now poised to make waves in the culinary world, offering healthier alternatives without compromising taste, safety, or quality.

Trade Safe is a USDA Food for Progress initiative in the Dominican Republic implemented by IESC. Trade Safe is improving the efficiency, coordination, and transparency of the trade, commercialization, and safety of food and agricultural products by supporting the implementation of science and risk-based sanitary and phytosanitary measures, standards, and regulations. Trade Safe is expanding the Dominican Republic’s local, regional, and international trade in agricultural products, increasing agricultural productivity, and improving consumer access to safe foods. IESC is joined by Purdue University, the Global Cold Chain Alliance-World Food Logistics Organization, LixCap, and the Dominican Republic-based Center for Agricultural and Forestry Development in the implementation of the Trade Safe Project.

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