Standing Ovation for Caribbean Specialty Foods


Caribbean specialty foods took the spotlight at five Fiesta Supermarket stores in Texas, USA in September, when the chain hosted a series of in-store promotions designed to raise consumer awareness of the varieties of specialty products produced in the region. 


The highlight of the promotions was the in-store cooking classes led by Jamaican Chef Jacqui Tyson-Neiderhauser who demonstrated her own recipes using the products to make dishes such as Pasta in Jerk Alfredo, Buccaneer Fruit Cake with Bacardi Rum Sauce, Island Poached Fish with Crackers and Jerk Chicken Fajitas Island Style.  A standing ovation, a rush to clear the shelves and interest in additional classes and in a cook book by customers, were testament to the promotion’s success.


According to Sam Kruiner, Caribbean Export Development Agency (Caribbean Export), “Texas was chosen because it is a market that is open to products of this type, and because of the presence of a Jamaican owned distributor, Sunburst Inc, which supplies the Fiesta Supermarket chain with Caribbean products.”


Derek Cox, Caribbean Export’s Consultant who managed the In-Store Promotions stressed the importance of a good importer and distributor to introduce new products. He noted “Our importer was very enthusiastic about doing the promotion and products were given good shelf positioning.”  The promotion was also held in Dallas and Austin, Texas which, says Mr Cox, “Cover the mix of ethnic, specialty and mainstream consumers that the Caribbean wants to attract.”


“There’s a need to do this more often, at least once or twice a year in different areas,” says Sam Kruiner. “It’s not enough to focus on buyers who will only buy what the consumer tells them to buy. We need to intensify creation of consumer awareness, and that’s something that we will be focusing on more.”


Two more in-store promotions following the same format are planned for 2011 in Atlanta, Georgia and Fort Lauderdale, Florida.


In other food news, more than 30 representatives of small and medium sized enterprises and government agencies attended the Trinidad and Tobago leg of the Specialty Food In-Country Seminars which according to Sam Kruiner, “Aim to re-educate participants about export requirements in this sector and to raise awareness about marketing and promoting their products through trade shows.” The next in the series of in-country seminars will be held in St. Lucia in October, with additional seminars scheduled for the Dominican Republic, Suriname and Barbados in 2011.


The promotion and seminar initiatives are components of the Caribbean Aid for Trade and Regional Integration Trust Fund (CARTFund) Specialty Food Programme, administered by the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) and financed by the UK Department for International Development

(DFID).  Sam Kruiner is the Project Manager of this 2-year programme. (see TradeWatch, February 2010)


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