Labour Minister Derrick Kellier
LONDON, England – A recent visit by a 15-member delegation to the New Covent Garden Market in London, led by Minister of Agriculture, Labour and Social Security Derrick Kellier to explore the market and how Jamaica can take advantage of the high demand for local fresh produce in the United Kingdom (UK), and increase exports to that market.
The delegation was informed that Jamaica has a strong brand presence in the UK and there is a huge demand for Jamaican produce by the food service sector.
Minister Kellier, in expressing optimism at the possibilities, said, “Once the connections can be made, we can put a lot of farmers to work in Jamaica.”
“There are lots of fruits sold on this market that we can produce in Jamaica. The fruits we grow have a higher level of flavour and quality than those grown elsewhere because of our climate and our soils,” he said.
“This visit will allow us to go back to Jamaica and explore with our own farmers the opportunities to get into this market,” he added.
The Jamaican delegation was hosted by Director of Business Development and Support at Covent Garden Market Authority, Helen Evans; Fresh Produce Consortium (FPC) Chief Executive, Nigel Jenney; and Head of Agriculture at QV Foods, and FPC Executive, Chris Marshall.
The team visited several traders in the market such as P&I Fruits, French Garden and Bevington Salads, and were shown the banana holding rooms at Premier Fruits.
Paul Emmett of P&I Fruits, who addressed the group, said, “There is a market here for anything from Jamaica. People identify with ‘Brand Jamaica’ they know they will get good quality and on a regular basis.”
Fresh Produce Consortium Chief Executive Nigel Jenny said the strength of the national brand should not be underestimated.
“We have seen that in the food service sector there is tremendous interest in Brand Jamaica. Every trader we have spoken to here today is interested in trading with Brand Jamaica and you should not underestimate the importance of that. What you need to do is keep in control of plant health issues, and if you really want to break into the UK market, GlobalGAP is an absolute minimum requirement,” he advised.
GlobalGAP is an internationally recognised set of farm standards dedicated to Good Agricultural Practices (GAP).
During the tour, the delegation also heard of possibilities for increased banana and mango exports.
Links have already been forged to supply specific melon varieties to the UK Marketing Consultant with the Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA), Dr Derrick Deslandes pointed out.
Vice President for Export and Market Development at JAMPRO, Robert Scott, said there is an opening for ginger from Jamaica.
“Something we do very well in Jamaica are public/private partnerships…what we have seen with our visit to New Covent Garden today and to New Spitalfields in November is that there is an absence of Jamaican products for the food service sector and this is a clear opportunity for Jamaica,” he said.
New Covent Garden Market is the largest wholesale fruit, vegetable and flower market in the UK. The market provides ingredients to many of London’s top restaurants, hotels, schools, prisons, hospitals, and catering businesses.
Published Date: February 18th, 2015
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