- Mr. Dunn’s business venture evolved after the pepper jelly supplier for the popular Jamaican restaurant where he is employed, ‘Uncorked’, ceased manufacturing the product, which the establishment uses to make sauces and season meats.
- He tells JIS News that when the restaurant was unable to source the product, “I decided to make a batch and [take] it to work”.
Operating a product-oriented business is, arguably, not always an easy undertaking, particularly if one is a young fledgling entrepreneur.
However, 25-year-old chef, Lucian Dunn, was intent on defying the odds in this regard, when he took a gamble two years ago and ventured into entrepreneurship.
This decision proved to be spot-on, as his product line – ‘Mosaic Foods Pepper Jelly’ – has been yielding significant dividends.
Pivotal to the enterprising entrepreneur’s endeavour was his leveraging of the Scientific Research Council’s (SRC) services, which enabled him to keep production costs low.
Mr. Dunn’s business venture evolved after the pepper jelly supplier for the popular Jamaican restaurant where he is employed, ‘Uncorked’, ceased manufacturing the product, which the establishment uses to make sauces and season meats.
He tells JIS News that when the restaurant was unable to source the product, “I decided to make a batch and [take] it to work”.
“I knew that I could make this jelly from scratch. But because it is a very time consuming and complicated process, no one believed that I could,” the young chef informs.
He says that after his colleagues and members of the management sampled his creation, “everyone was shocked… as they realized that my pepper jelly tasted better [than the former supplier’s]”.
Mr. Dunn says he was asked to commence supplying the restaurant chain with the product, “and that is how ‘Mosaic Foods Pepper Jelly’ was born”.
He notes, however, that as the restaurant expanded and the demand for the product grew, he encountered challenges in his bid manufacture larger quantities.
“That’s when I realized I needed help to grow and further develop my [venture], so [that] I could officially turn it into a business and keep up with the demand,” he points out.
Mr. Dunn says he first contacted the Bureau of Standards Jamaica (BSJ) to get information about product labeling and certification, and to ensure that the condiment met the stipulated criteria for consumption.
He recounts that following the BSJ’s inspection exercise, he was referred to the SRC to get additional help with business development and production.
“Working with the SRC was a huge game-changer for Mosaic Foods Pepper Jelly. The SRC allowed me to steadily meet my customers’ needs and improve upon my service delivery at a very reasonable cost,” he informs.
The SRC is an Agency of the Ministry of Science, Energy and Technology with responsibility for new product development, utilizing science, technology, and innovation.
As part of its service offerings, the Agency has been facilitating several initiatives to strengthen institutions within the micro, small and medium enterprises (MSME) sector.
It facilitates the production of a range of items in the food, personal care, cosmetics, and agro-processing categories.
These include: sauces, beverages, jams, jellies, lotions, body butter, smoked meats, teas and seasonings.
The agency also facilitates training in Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP), canning, and food preservation.
“The SRC helped me with the formulation of my recipe. It needed to be tweaked to have a longer shelf life and to meet some other intricate scientific [requirements],” Mr. Dunn explains, pointing out that while the process was “very detailed”, it was not lengthy.
“From the time that I went to them with my original recipe to the time that I got the scientific recipe was a short two-week turnaround. Then once I received the improved recipe, I scheduled an available date, and they started manufacturing my product; they produce the jelly based on request. [In fact] they do all my manufacturing and packaging and I simply just pick up [the condiment] and distribute it,” he adds.
Mr. Dunn advises, however, that business has been slowed due to the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic.
“So what I do now is to request a large enough batch to serve the customers I have currently; my product now has a shelf life of one year. Initially, I started out selling the product by the gallon to restaurants. However, I’ve recently started also selling it by the jar, thanks to packaging from the SRC,” he shares, while expressing the hope that Mosaic Foods Pepper Jelly will be on supermarket shelves by year-end.
Mr. Dunn says he is gratified with the level of support he is receiving from clients, who include the operators of ‘Uncorked’, his current workplace, whom he describes as “very supportive’.
He is also appreciative of the patronage from several other food establishments across the Corporate Area.
“I have always been trying new business ventures. I [have used] my funds to invest in my ideas which I know will yield me great [dividends]. My message to any upcoming entrepreneur is to be persistent and focused. Look for and engage the various government entities, like the SRC, which can offer excellent business support” the young chef says.
While acknowledging that operating a business “isn’t easy”, Mr. Dunn maintains contends that “it’s not impossible”.
“Thanks to the SRC team for not only offering affordable services, but for believing in my product and making me feel like family,” he adds.
Persons interested in ordering Mosaic Pepper Jelly can contact Lucian Dunn at 876-543-1243.