Jamaica Urged to look to US Ethnic Food Market


Jamaica is being urged to look to increase food exports to the United Sates (US), to take advantage of the high demand in the ethnic market.
Ambassador to the US, Anthony Johnson, addressing the National Association of Jamaican and Supportive Organizations (NAJASO) Ball on July 19 at the Hilton Hotel in Atlanta, Georgia, put forward the proposal as one of the solutions to the economic crisis.
Noting that Jamaica currently exports about $100 million of food products to the US annually, he suggested that this figure could rise to around $2 billion through a five per cent increase in market saturation.
According to Ambassador Johnson, Jamaica, like the rest of the world, is being affected by the economic recession, with three of four aluminum plants having closed recently, resulting in a 40 per cent drop in Government revenue. With earnings from tourism and remittance down, the country has to look to other opportunities, he stated.
“The challenges we face are not insurmountable. Solutions can be found in the opportunities that exist in the large unfulfilled demand for Jamaican food products that exists in North America. The appetite for Jamaican foods has now crossed over into the Hispanic, African American and West African markets,” he noted.
“The ethnic market penetration we seek is possible if Jamaican importers, distributors and retailers get involved in the sales and marketing of products such as yellow yam, ackee, bammy, and other produce that they are already familiar with,” he stated.
Ambassador Johnson also implored Jamaicans to get involved in the outsourcing industry, highlighting the country’s natural geographical and cultural advantages.
“Jamaica is on the same longitude as the east coast of America where these outsourcing services are needed. Jamaica is only one hour from Florida and therefore cheaper for American business people to travel to. Jamaicans also understand the American culture and Americans understand the Jamaican culture,” he pointed out.
The conference, which began on Friday July 17, was held under theme: ‘Facing the Challenges, Uncovering the Opportunities’, and involved delegates from the US, Canada, the United Kingdom, Bermuda and the Caribbean.
In the meantime, Outgoing President of NAJASO, Catherine Tomlinson announced plans for the establishment of the NAJASO Alfred Rattary/Collin Bennett Learning Corridor in Kingston – a permanent honour to the late Ambassador Rattary who founded the organisation. The facility is to be located at 179 Orange Street.
Although planning is in its infancy, she said that the organisation is optimistic that approvals will be granted and the centre will be realised.
In endorsing the plans Ambassador Johnson said, “Ambassador Rattary was closer than a brother to me; he was my mentor, and he is worthy of any honour that is bestowed upon him.”
He suggested that NAJASO institute a mentorship programme for young leaders to practise and understand the vision upon which the organisation was formed.
The election of NAJASO officers was held earlier in the day and the new officers were introduced to the patrons at the Ball.

JIS Social