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Caribbean Export and WIRSPA partner on the Absolutely Caribbean Virtual Expo



Caribbean Export Development Agency (Caribbean Export) and the West Indies Rum & Spirits Producers Association (WIRSPA) are working together to support increased trade of rum and spirits between the Caribbean and Europe with the Absolutely Caribbean Virtual Expo, scheduled for 17-18 November.

The Absolutely Caribbean Virtual Expo will host some 50 exhibitors from across the Caribbean that manufacture products in the areas of sauces and condiments, natural products and alcoholic beverages. “The rum and spirits sectors are an important sector for trade in CARIFORUM and we have seen exports to the European Union grow by nearly 27% between 2017-2019” informed Dr. Damie Sinanan, Manager of Competitiveness and Export Promotion at Caribbean Export.

Despite a contraction in sales in domestic markets and internationally due to the restrictions around lockdowns and social gatherings, Caribbean rum producers report continued interest in their premium offerings and are working to ensure that they capitalize on this interest once markets return to normalcy. Brands from Antigua & Barbuda, Belize, the Dominican Republic, Grenada, Haiti and Suriname will participate.

Rhum Barbancourt Managing Director Delphine Gardere (pictured) says they’re pleased to be participating: “The coronavirus has kept us from implementing our growth plans in this important market – we think the virtual exhibition will allow us to reach new markets and provide tangible export results”.

Vaughn Renwick, CEO of WIRSPA said: “This virtual trade show is designed to benefit smaller brands looking to extend their reach in export markets - key to its success is attracting solid importers, distributors and wholesalers to be part of the show. We think Caribbean Export has done a great job on this score.”

He added: “We’re pleased to partner with Caribbean Export on this innovative venture - presenting a virtual exhibition is new for many of us and it is great to see Caribbean Export leading the way.”

The Absolutely Caribbean Virtual Expo, provides an opportune time for Caribbean producers to showcase what they have to bring to the global market and is a follow-up to the 4th CARIFORUM-EU Business Forum held, in Frankfurt Germany last year which saw some 70 industry buyers and investors conduct over 150 business to business meetings.

The partnership with WIRSPA aims to support the participation of regional producers and leverage their knowledge and expertise in the international market. WIRSPA is one of the oldest private sector trade associations in the Caribbean. It represents rum producers in Antigua & Barbuda, Barbados, Belize, Haiti, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, St. Vincent & the Grenadines, St. Lucia, Suriname and Trinidad & Tobago. #END# About Caribbean Export

Caribbean Export is a regional export development and trade and investment promotion organization of the Forum of Caribbean States (CARIFORUM) currently executing the Regional Private Sector Programme (RPSDP) funded by the European Union under the 11th European Development Fund (EDF) Caribbean Export’s mission is to increase the competitiveness of Caribbean countries by providing quality export development and trade and investment promotion services through effective programme execution and strategic alliances.

More information about Caribbean Export. 


Europe’s appetite for Caribbean food highlights growing trend



The Caribbean food market is now worth almost £100 million. Sauces and condiments in particular are worth £1.12 billion and grew by 16.8% in the last year. The gluten free flour market grew 19.9% in 2019 in the UK and in Germany is worth £174m. Caribbean Export releases a report - Unlocking the profit potential of the Caribbean ahead of it’s virtual expo Absolutely Caribbean. Caribbean firms given the opportunity to showcase their products to European buyers.

A growing taste for Caribbean food in Europe could be lucrative for regional manufacturers, according to research from The Caribbean Export Development Agency (Caribbean Export). The trend for exotic food sauces and condiments and natural, plant-based ingredients is highlighted in a new report commissioned ahead of Caribbean Export’s Absolutely Caribbean virtual expo on 17 and 18 November.

“We are seeing great potential for Caribbean food products across Europe at the moment,” said Caribbean Export Competitiveness and Export Promotion Manager Dr. Damie Sinanan. “It seems that consumers are looking for different flavours and playing more with spices but there is much promise amongst natural foods such a chocolate, teas and gluten-free flours. We are really excited about the range of quality, artisanal producers that we have at our expo this year which will help to support trade between the Caribbean and Europe.”

In the UK, the Caribbean food market is now worth almost £100m and foodservice wholesale giant Bidfood singled out Caribbean food as a Top 10 cuisine trend. In 2019, UK retailer Tesco also highlighted Caribbean fare as an ‘emerging trend’. Sauces and condiments in particular are worth £1.12bn and grew by 16.8% in the last year. Craig & Shaun McAnuff at Caribbean food & lifestyle platform ‘Original Flava’, state: “We’ve seen a huge rise in the popularity of Caribbean foods in the UK in recent years which is really exciting. The likes of Ainsley Harriott and Levi Roots paving the way for Caribbean food; seeing staple Caribbean ingredients more widely available; but also seeing our cookbook as a bestseller on numerous charts and receiving TV & media recognition nationally. There is such a variety and so many flavours in Caribbean cooking which the British public are loving.”

In Spain, the ‘foods from other countries’ category has grown by 105.9% since 2012. Spicy tastes have seen strong growth with Caribbean flavours named as an emerging trend in sauces and spices, increasing around 55% to three million kilograms and over 29% in value to nearly €19m. Almost a third (32%) of German consumers have said they like Caribbean food which has led to an increase in heat and spice on the table during family dinners. People in the Netherlands are also increasingly open to incorporating greater variation into their cooking, including flavour combinations and the use of fresh and natural ingredients, with the value of chilli sauces climbing 125% in value since 2016.

Europe’s love for wholesome plant-based ingredients, combined with the region’s efforts to promote sustainability, have also led to an increased interest in natural and organic products such as chocolate, tea and gluten-free flour. In the UK, chocolate is a £4.3bn category and according to Kantar, plain and dark chocolate is growing by 14.5% year-on-year. In Spain, it is worth €1.5bn, and increased by 3.6% in 2019. Meanwhile, the Netherlands was the largest importer of cocoa beans in 2018 and is home to the largest cocoa grinding industry in the world. The tea category in the UK is worth £561.3m which is not surprising given the nation’s love of the hot beverage.

In Germany, 129 million cups of tea are consumed every day and in the Netherlands 71% of consumers drink tea at least once a week. The UK’s gluten-free flour food category grew by 19.9% in 2019 compared to the year before and in Germany the market is worth £174m. Caribbean food suppliers will be given the chance to showcase their unique food products to European buyers at Caribbean Export’s first virtual expo event: Absolutely Caribbean - unlocking the profit potential of the Caribbean on 17 and 18 November. For more information about the event and to register, click here. 

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Caribbean Export Development Agency launches first virtual expo event 



The Caribbean Export Development Agency (Caribbean Export) has announced the launch of its first virtual expo event named Absolutely Caribbean, unlocking the profit potential of the Caribbean.  Taking place on 17th and 18th November 2020, the event will bring together around 50 producers to showcase some of the best products that the Caribbean has to offer.   

We’re really excited to be organizing our first virtual expo. We have seen a growing trend for Caribbean food, beverages and natural products across Europe in the last few years which presents a real opportunity for us.  In the UK alone, Caribbean food is now estimated to be worth £97m1 with the number of Caribbean restaurants in the last year having grown by 144%2, comments Dr. Damie Sinanan, Manager of Competitiveness and Export Promotion from Caribbean Export.

Attendees will have the chance to book slots to meet with producers from a variety of categories including sauces and condiments; alcoholic drinks; natural, plant-based products and nutraceuticals.  There will also be a presentation by European consumer goods and retail experts to discuss the latest insights on these fast-moving consumer goods within the UK, Germany, Spain and the Netherlands.

Caribbean Export has partnered with Shaun and Craig McAnuff of Original Flava for the event who have found great success with their Caribbean food and lifestyle platform and recently released their first cookbook of authentic Jamaican recipes.  With an increase in demand for Caribbean sauces and condiments across Europe, the duo will host a live session to show how versatile these products are, including a cooking demonstration.

The event is also supported by the West Indies Rum & Spirit Producer’s Association (WIRSPA), who represent distillers’ associations from across the ACP Caribbean3 and will be hosting a session on premium alcoholic drinks from the Caribbean in collaboration with the Rum and Spirits Academy of Europe

The online event is a joint venture between Caribbean Export, the European Commission and the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) and has been launched off the back of a successful three-day trade show and conference which took place in Germany last year.

For more information about the event and to register, click here. 

[1] Grocery – IRI December 2017

[2] CGA August 2019

[3] ACP stands for ‘Africa, Caribbean and Pacific’. The ACP Caribbean states are the countries that are signatories of the Lomé Convention signed in 1975. This was superseded by the Cotonou Agreement in June 2000.

About Caribbean Export 

Caribbean Export is the only regional trade and investment promotion agency in the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) group. Established in 1996 by an Inter-Governmental Agreement as the regional trade and investment promotion agency, it serves the 15 states of the Caribbean Forum (CARIFORUM), namely: Antigua and Barbuda, The Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Haiti, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, Saint Lucia, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname, and Trinidad and Tobago.

The agency carries out numerous programme based activities designed to enhance the competitiveness of regional small and medium sized enterprises, promote trade and development amongst CARIFORUM states, promote stronger trade and investment between the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and the Dominican Republic, CARIFORUM states and the French Caribbean Outermost Regions (FCORs) and the EU Overseas Countries and Territories (OCTs) in the Caribbean.

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Caribbean Export boosting the international competitiveness of the region’s services sector



As services industries and providers across the region learn to navigate the global pandemic, Caribbean Export Development Agency in collaboration with the Belize Coalition of Services Provides, the Jamaica Coalition of Services Industries and the Trinidad and Tobago Coalition of Services Industries are stepping in to host a training programme to enhance the export-readiness of services SMEs.

Commencing on October 1st, 2020. This programme will support thirty (30) services providers operating in the business and professional services, and information, communication, and technology sectors (ICT) and is funded by the European Union as part of the 11th EDF Regional Private Sector Development Programme.

Ten entrepreneurs will be selected from each country to undertake the training and subsequently, six participants from each country will be selected to receive one on one coaching based on their performance during the workshop. The objective of the coaching is to provide them with feedback to complete their export plans.

The training will take place virtually over five days and will provide an opportunity for participating businesses to develop export plans, access regional and international markets and develop their global brands.

The Services Go Global (SGG) programme was developed to optimize the CARIFORUM region’s export of services by building the capacity of service providers to capitalize on opportunities under the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA), CARICOM Single Market & Economy (CSME) and other existing trade agreements; and developing national capacity through a cadre of certified trainers for the SGG programme, geared to assist SME’s in the services sector. The workshop will be facilitated by master trainers, Michelle Hustler (Barbados) and Dr. Nsombi Jaja (Jamaica).

“Services play a crucial role in the development of the economies in CARIFORUM, not just as a sector but also due to the significant impact on other sectors such as the manufacturing sector. Caribbean Export is deeply committed to the development of the region’s services sector and it is hoped that firms large and small capitalize upon this opportunity to build their capacity to take advantage of the CARIFORUM-EU EPA and importantly during this pandemic build their resilience and their ability to support other sectors to better integrate into the new global economy.” expressed Allyson Francis, Services Specialist at Caribbean Export.

There are currently a number of opportunities for small firms to enter new markets, and it is anticipated these will be increased once they have participated in the SERVICES Go Global programme. This human and institutional capacity building initiative goes hand in hand with another joint project between the development agencies, which aims to enhance the sustainability of the national services coalitions which provide critical business support services to local service providers including training, advocacy and export promotions.

“SERVICES Go Global is a timely and comprehensive training programme for service exporters, and this training comes at an opportune time as businesses in Trinidad and Tobago seek to pivot their services,” shared Lara Quentrall – Thomas, President, Trinidad and Tobago Coalition of Services Industries. Dr. Dionne Chamberlain, President, Belize Coalition for Services Providers echoed Ms. Quentrall – Thomas’s sentiments, and confirmed that the course will not only prove valuable to service providers across the region but will enhance their own export efforts in the process.

The programme was developed and delivered by Global Links Network, certified international trade professionals who have delivered services training in over 50 countries worldwide over the past 20 years. To date, SERVICES Go Global is the only export readiness training programme for services exporters and would-be exporters in the world. The programme follows a logical, sequenced approach to exporting – a ‘Roadmap’ – and takes the exporters through four stages and twelve modules of export preparation. With the completion of each module, elements of the service provider’s export plan are developed. Service providers who undertake the course leave having completed the essential elements of their export plan and having gained the valuable skills necessary to successfully engage in the international marketplace.

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