PONCE, Puerto Rico — Did you know that several popular products you see at the grocery store are made in Puerto Rico?
- Rovira Biscuit Corp. makes soda crackers distributed around US
- Family-owned company based in Ponce in business since 1929
- Rovira served as safe haven for its 300 workers after Maria
Adobo goya, coconut candies, arroz rico and soda crackers are all made on the island.
Hurricane Maria had an impact on production, however.
"We work really closely with our suppliers. We made contact with them as soon as we could to identify if they had any issues to see if they were going to have any shortages," said David Pagan with Publix Supermarkets.
In Ponce, Puerto Rico, at the Rovira Biscuit Corporation, the smell of warm, freshly baked soda crackers fill the air.
It's a family-owned company that's been in business since 1929. They make soda crackers in the iconic colored tin cans you find across the U.S.
"For us, it was very important to start working as soon as possible," says Frances Rovira, the company's vice president of exports.
There's power now to keep the factory moving. But after Maria hit, the electricity went out for days.
The roof held up, and so did the rest of the facility. But getting their products to grocery stores was a big issue.
(Tony Rojek, staff)
During an extensive behind-the-scenes tour of the factory, Carlos Rovira described what they had to do.
“No power. No communication, nothing. It was hard to get a hold of our employees, but we have a process in place," he said. "Everyone had their instructions."
At Rovira, the concern was not just for the product but workers such as Frank Cerrano, a 38-year employee.
The hurricane leveled his home.
"I lost everything," Cerrano says in Spanish.
Working the production line, his job is to pick up cracker pieces that break off -- which he continued to do as his life was falling apart.
"We just went through a big tragedy, and some people lost their homes. We wanted to be an anchor, a place you could come and feel safe," said Frances Rovira as we stood next to the conveyer belt and hot ovens.
So for the past six months since the hurricane hit the island, the company's 300 dedicated employees continue to check in so we can enjoy the familiar crackers made with love in Puerto Rico.