View Full Version : Canadian retailers selling knockoff Jamaican products, claim

04-04-2010, 02:14 PM
Canadian retailers selling knockoff Jamaican products, claims importer

Ingrid Brown Senior Sunday Finance reporter [email protected]

Sunday, April 04, 2010

A Canadian importer of local produce has revealed that some retailers in that country are passing off ground provisions from other nations as Jamaican-grown, due to the uncompetitively high prices associated with stocking their shelves with the real Jamaican commodities.

"Sometimes they mix cheaper produce from other countries with the Jamaican stuff because the Jamaican stuff is more expensive ," importer Chris Williams told Sunday Finance.

This, he said, tends to taint some Jamaican produce in instances when the item being passed off is inferior.

Noting that while a box of coco from Jamaica can cost up to Cdn$32 before shipping cost and overheads are added, Canadian retailers may be able to buy a similar box from elsewhere for $Cdn30.

This, he argued, has resulted in some stores not being able to stock only Jamaican produce, as they did in the past, but to mix it with produce from other countries.

Williams, who imports and distributes Jamaican products in Toronto through Taste Buds Impex, said many Chinese and even West Indian store owners are switching to cheaper coco and sweet potatoes from Costa Rica and Honduras, and peppers, avocado and breadfruits from St Lucia and Guyana.

Vegetables are coming in from Costa Rica, China and Korea to name a few and the Chinese are now planting peppers and callaloo in green houses in the Oakville area of Canada," Williams said.

He explained further that Tarro is being used to replace the Jamaican dasheen while some form of yams are coming out of China in what seems to be a experimental project.

Ackees, he added, are predominantly being prepared on the Ivory Coast with some processing companies taking advantage of this.

"Unconfirmed reports from a colleague of mine in the UK is that Brazil is now exporting a lot of yellow yams to Europe some of which may be tagged as 'produce of Jamaica'," he said.

Meanwhile Williams said there is no lack of a market in Canada for a wide variation of Jamaican produce if only the local farmers can ensure consistency of price and quality.

"Jamaica produce will always sell because it is a bit tastier than other country's but pricing is a major challenge," he said, adding that a lot needs to be done in terms of consistency in the market place.

The inability to maintain consistency in price and quality, according to Williams, has resulted in a lot of the produce Jamaica would normally supply, now coming in cheaper from South Africa and China.

Williams believes if a Government strategy is not developed to ensure Jamaican farmers can produce goods more efficiently, then Jamaica will be left behind.

Williams, himself a Jamaican, said he imports a 24-foot container of ground produce monthly as well as weekly shipments of items like pepper escallion and thyme which is distributed to restaurants and supermarkets in the greater Toronto area.

Williams, who has established a farm in Jamaica and purchases produce from farmers in St Catherine, St Ann, Manchester and Clarendon, said he recognises that some of the farmers are not educated on what the export market is looking for. As such he said another of the challenge is to maintain consistency with quality.

"The farmers need to be educated on what is required of them in terms of the quality which is needed abroad because, for example, although there is a wide variety of sweet potatoes, there is only two types that are accepted in Canada," he said.

This, according to Williams, is where the Rural Agricultural Development Agency can play a part in sensitising farmers on what they must grow for the export market.

"If we get the standard under control that would definitely help because each export market is different," he said.

Meanwhile, Williams said there is scope for growth for exporters to that country, if there can be a proper streamlining of what is required.

"There is more than adequate market...the market is really there...but when it comes to consistency the need to know their stuff is coming on time at a good quality and that the price won't change every other week," he said.

Although the majority of West Indians are in Toronto, Williams said he is looking to branch out in other non-West Indian territories as a lot of Jamaican produce are being sold in the Chinese stores, where the customer base extends beyond West Indians.

04-04-2010, 02:19 PM
SuperStore ha dis President's Choice JAMAICAN STYLE Ginger Beer a sell....mi buy it n drink it an love it cause di way di 'ginger' rhygin eena it , mi nosehole open up

so mi drink di whole ting finally n a look pon di ingredients...not a mention of GINGER...mi mean seh di wud GINGER no deh nowhere in di ingredients

so mi cawl di toll-free numba an as tings wud go is a yaadie a di customer service rep...so mi ? y no ginga no eena di GINGER BEER etc etc

him coulden tell mi y but mi still took di time fi have a nice chat wid a yaadie in Toronto

but a so di Jamaican name is used....if u go tru stores n see di amount of tings dat seh Jamaica...even Blue MTN coffee dat wen u read di packaging it come from East Africa