UK’s Fresh Produce Consortium optimistic about business opportunities with local farmers

(L-R) A Jamaican farmer discusses opportunities in the fresh produce industry with the United Kingdom’s Chris Marshall, Head of Agriculture at QV Foods, Laurence Jones, JAMPRO’s European Regional Manager and Stephen Conn, Sales Executive at Greencell Ltd.

JAMPRO is targeting opportunities for local fresh produce farmers in the United Kingdom market following a recent successful mission of the UK’s largest fresh produce importers.

The mission, which was managed through JAMPRO’s European Regional office in collaboration with the Caribbean Export Development Agency, took place from April 2 – 7 and included well known fresh produce suppliers DG Fruits UK, Greencells Limited, QV Foods and the UK’s fresh produce trade association, Fresh Produce Consortium (FPC).

Angie Stuart, Business Liaison Manager at FPC, believes there is tremendous opportunity for Jamaica to increase fresh produce exports to the UK. She said, “The British love Jamaica and would be delighted both at trader and consumer level to buy and eat more Jamaican produce. The country has great soil and superior irrigation system and if your producers can meet the standards expected by the UK supermarkets and consistently deliver quality at the right price, the opportunities are endless.”

Negotiations are now in place for the production of Covington sweet potatoes in Jamaica for export to the UK. Developed in North Carolina in the United States, the Covington breed of sweet potatoes generated more than $250 million in U.S. farm revenue in 2012 — and is the No. 1 sweet potato exported out of the country.

According to Stuart the mission yielded success in also identifying several Jamaican producers that are eligible to receive sponsorship to attend the upcoming London Produce Show and Conference in June. The conference is the first event of its kind to be staged in the UK for the fresh fruit, vegetable and flower industries. She added, “They will be given a free stand to promote their produce, free accommodation and all food and beverage for the three day show which will include UK and international buyers.”

For Laurence Jones, JAMPRO’s European Regional Manager, the initiative was undertaken through a collaborative approach between Jamaican farmers and processed food companies, JAMPRO, the Jamaican Ministry of Agriculture and the Jamaica Agriculture Investment Corporation. He said, “These organisations have jointly sought external support for companies seeking to penetrate the European Union markets. This mission provided direct buyer engagement opportunities for exporters; in keeping with JAMPRO’s export promotion strategy.”

He added that the mission was also fruitful in understanding the requirements of the European Union (EU) fresh produce and processed foods buyers, in particular EU consumer expectations and EU regulatory requirements regarding packaging and labelling.

While in Jamaica the delegation attended Expo Jamaica 2014 at the National Arena, met with the Minister of Agriculture, the Hon. Roger Clarke, visited local farmers in Spring Plains, Ebony Park and Amity as well as attended a JAMPRO hosted forum where they met with local suppliers of fresh produce.

Published Date: 
Thursday, April 24, 2014
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