USDBC Regional Contest Boost Innovative Dry Bean Products and Transforms Small Company in Costa Rica

In November 2020, the U.S. Dry Bean Council (USDBC) used MAP funding to launch a “SuperChef” cooking contest in the DR- CAFTA  region and Panama.  The contest was designed to promote the creation of innovative recipes using U.S. dry beans and give our product visibility on mass media and USDBC’s social media channels for the region, @todoconfrijol.  As a result, the USDBC generated a lasting and positive impact by boosting the small company of the winner, while increasing awareness of dry beans’ potential.  With an investment of US$5,000, we generated a return of US$308,000 in media value and transmitted dry beans’ health benefits and sustainability message to over 2.3 million people in the region. Moreover, the USDBC is still seeing the winner´s project grow to date, making it a story worth telling.

Johanna Sanchez, from Costa Rica, won the 2020 edition of the contest, with a black bean sourdough bun recipe (40% black bean content). Johanna is an industrial engineer, and mother of 3, who put her career on hold for a few years to devote herself to her family, after which she started the entrepreneurship of sourdough buns. Looking for ways to create something healthier and original, she developed the black bean sourdough buns with which she won the contest.

On April 2022, USDBC contacted Johanna to ask her to make a statement about the impact of the contest on her life and business.  She said: “The reach and scope of my Fran brand and myself were unthinkable. I was able to be on national television, radio, and press, not only with the announcement that I had won a regional contest but also because some people approached me because they wanted to share my life story, as a businesswoman and as a mother. From then on, my business grew enormously in sales volume, and customer diversification, even in distant areas of the country. This allowed me to continue operating during the COVID-19 pandemic and generate employment and linkages in my community. If it wasn’t for this display, I probably would have had to go out of business. Due to the impact of the contest and my story as an entrepreneur, wife, and mother, I was recognized by Forbes Latin America magazine as one of the 20 most influential women in Central America in 2021. This caused private and State institutions to invite me to give my testimony and technical opinion, i.e., Amura, one of the most prestigious culinary schools in the region, the University of Costa Rica for a microbiological study of my sourdough, and the National Learning Institute (INA) to give my testimony within its program for entrepreneurs. The local government of Santa Barbara and the Ministry of Agriculture helped me to empower myself, especially among the women of my municipality.”


SuperChef continued with the 2021 edition, won by a Guatemalan amateur chef, Estuardo Perez, and we are looking forward to seeing how his story evolves. We will continue supporting tenacious people that help us communicate the immense potential of dry beans.


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U.S. Dry Bean Council


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