Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, Hon. Roger Clarke, says there is great demand for Jamaican agricultural produce and agro-processed products in the United Kingdom (UK).
He pointed out that the Ministry will be working with local farmers and producers to meet the demand in the market, and called on all the relevant stakeholders, including exporters, to make a concerted effort to further capitalise on those market opportunities in the UK.
Mr. Clarke was speaking at a press conference on the recent ‘Investment and trade mission to Birmingham and London, United Kingdom’, at Jamaica House on August 20. The mission lasted from July 31 to August 9; and August 10 to 12.
"The entire exercise revealed that there is a very strong demand for Jamaican agricultural produce and agro-processed products. Over time, we have lost market share to other emerging sources, which are falsely marketing their products as Jamaican. All relevant agencies of Government must make a concerted effort to work with our exporters to overcome these challenges," he said.
The Minister noted that the meetings have identified credible distributors in the UK, who are willing to partner with local producers/exporters to increase exports to the UK, “providing we can deal with the issue of pricing."
"We have a far better appreciation of how to price our products; we acknowledge the weaknesses in our packaging and the need to strengthen our phytosanitary regulations and surveillance," Mr. Clarke said.
He said that the Ministry will take responsibility to work with exporters, to link them to the identified distributors and to address specific issues relating to phytosanitary matters. "We believe that very strong opportunities exist for our spices and cocoa without much effort,” he said.
With regard to fresh produce, Mr. Clarke said that, "we will address, in a collaborative way, the existing challenges. Within a short time, we expect increased exports in bammies, pan cake syrups, cake mixes, pimento, ginger, curry powder, nutmeg and other spices and sauces."
The Minister said that investment opportunities are expected in the cocoa industry, which will lead to an expansion in the medium term. “Of course all of this will translate into increased agricultural production and employment,” he added.
The Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries participated in two investment and trade promotion initiatives organised by JAMPRO and the Jamaica Tourist Board, as part of Jamaica's 50th year of independence and the country’s success in the Olympics.
Objectives of the mission were: to introduce a range of Jamaican agricultural produce to the British markets – herbs, spices, sauces, roots and tubers, beverage concentrates and extracts, teas, cocoa, coffee and fresh produce; and to obtain a better understanding of the British market and consumer preferences in respect to prices, packaging, regulatory requirements and distribution.
Other goals were: to engage discussions with buyer/distributors, with a view to having them carry a line of local agricultural produce and products; to present specific investment opportunities in the agricultural sector, particularly coffee, cocoa and spices.