The Caribbean Export Development Agency’s (Caribbean Export) Executive Director Pamela Coke Hamilton highlighted the key market opportunities available for agricultural businesses right here within the Caribbean region at the 2nd Caribbean Agribusiness Forum that took place in Barbados last week.
“There is a US $4billion food import bill in the Caribbean. Therefore we have a $4billion export market right here” stressed Coke Hamilton during her participation of the opening panel discussion on the ‘opportunities to support agribusiness in the ACP-EU cooperation instruments.” Highlighting the Caribbean as an unexploited market she posed several questions to the audience of approx. 250 policy makers, private sector (farmers and agribusiness), financial institutions, chefs, development partners, ministries of Agriculture and Tourism amongst others; “what are the issues of access in our own market and what are the solutions? Why are we still finding sugar from Georgia in hotels across the Caribbean? And how do we engage hotel chains and businesses to provide the quality and supply needed to support the tourism industry.”
The region benefits from the one of the largest tourism sectors per capita giving rise to a captive export market right here. This coupled with the increased demand for ‘ethnic’ foods in major markets of the UK and US increases the opportunities for the region’s agribusiness sector in the export market. The 2014 Key Note Ethnic Foods Market report forecasts growth of 14.8% between 2014 and 2018 in the UK alone, and the US hot sauce market has grown 150% since 2000 due to migrant populations (Euromonitor).
The two day Forum jointly hosted by the Caribbean Agribusiness Association (CABA), the ACP-EU Technical Center for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation (CTA), the Interamerican Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA), aims to promote agribusiness development in SIDS by sharing successful business cases and identifying tangible opportunities in new markets. In addition it aims to promote the linkages between the agrifood sector and the tourism industry, to promote local sourcing and identify the support needed to strengthen relations between chain actors and the tourism industry.