JIS News

As of January 2009, Jamaica Producers (JP) Tropical Foods, will produce 50,000 packets of cassava chips weekly for the local market.
The food snack is now available in barbeque and lightly salted flavours, but more flavours will be introduced and more packets produced, said Chairman of JP Tropical Foods, Charles Johnston.
He was speaking at the official launch of JP Tropical Foods and the cassava chips project at St. Mary Banana Estates recently.
JP Tropical Foods, which operates from 12,000 square feet of factory and warehouse space, is a subsidiary of the Jamaica Producers Group. The JP banana and plantain chips will now be marketed under the Tropical Foods brand, as the company expands it snack business.
Commercial Director of JP Tropical Foods, Rolf Simmonds, said that the production of cassava chips followed several months of research, development, consultations, and tasting with target groups. Raw material, he reported, is grown in the company’s own fields and is also sourced from contract farmers to whom lands were given following job losses, when the banana industry declined after several hurricanes. Sweet cassava is also purchased from several small farmers in St. Thomas. The company employs 400 persons.
Minister of Agriculture, Christopher Tufton, who was present at the launch and toured the operations, commended JP on the project, which he said, is the tangible outcome he hoped for when, seven months ago, he began urging Jamaicans to utilise local starches in the interest of food security. “We need to develop the capacity to do more for ourselves, embrace the technology and produce from our own stock,” he stated.
Pointing to the advantages of cassava, he said it can be processed in the same way as potatoes, the leaves have medicinal qualities, and the plants suffer less damage in hurricanes as the produce is grown underground. He further indicated that cassava is the third most important starch in the world.
According to the Minister, the cassava chips project is indicative of the company’s commitment to the agricultural sector and demonstrates true entrepreneurial spirit, by confronting, adjusting and overcoming the challenges of the time.
“As an investor willing to move from the field to the fork, using marketing information and working from your backyard into the productive process, you have made a positive move which I hope will be a catalyst for others to follow”, he said, noting also that “by working with small farmers, the company was fostering stability of production by strengthening the community base”, said Minister Tufton.
In the meantime, Mr. Simmonds said that the company will be introducing more exotic tropical snacks in the near future, noting that there has been a 17 per cent compounded growth in snacks over the past year.
Cassava chips, Mr. Simmonds informed, have 20 per cent more fibre than potato chips, less fat, and cost less, making it the better choice for children and adults.

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