Look to the BRICS for new markets - Pengelley
Brian Pengelley, president of the Jamaica Manufacturers' Association (JMA), is urging local producers to go after export markets in emerging countries, in particular, the BRICS, where demand exists for Jamaican produce.
Speaking at the JMA annual awards banquet in Kingston on Thursday night, Pengelley also said that Cuba, Jamaica's closest neighbour, has demand for processed foods, beverages and nutraceuticals.
"There are several untapped markets worldwide that Jamaican manufacturers can penetrate. The emerging economies of the BRIC countries represent varying opportunities for us," said Pengelley.
"For example, in Brazil, South America's largest economy, there is a niche market for processed foods, beverages and indigenous high-quality fashion. In South Africa, there is a market for packaged foods, teas, coffee, beer and rum. The sky is the limit, so let's manufacture and link to the global supply chain."
Other opportunities also exist in the French Caribbean in places such as Guadeloupe and Martinique, he said, while also imploring manufacturers to take advantage of Jamaica's "ideal and enviable location, and make the most of trade agreements and other windows to expand exports of Jamaican products and earn foreign exchange".
At the awards event, Red Stripe Jamaica walked away with the top accolade, which is the Governor General's trophy for Top Manufacturer of the Year.
The beverage company also snagged the Prime Minister's Award for Champion Exporter - Large Enterprise; the Digital Business ICT award for large companies, the National Certification Body of Jamaica award for Best Environmental Management Project; and the Skills and Productivity Award for large companies.
The second-largest haul went to PA Benjamin Manufacturing Company Limited, which won the JMA president's award for champion exporter in the medium-sized company category; the Nicola Gordon Rowe Buy Jamaica Award, and the Ministry of Industry Investment and Commerce Award for Competitiveness. The company also collected the JMA group award as winner in the chemicals, cosmetics and pharmaceutical products category.
Winner of the breakthrough product of the year went to Newport-Fersan for its micro-nutrient fertiliser.
Pengelley, in his address, said that manufacturing remained a key pillar of the economy as a driver for productivity, growth and trade in Jamaica.
"In 2013, our contribution to the economy remained stable at 8.4 per cent of GDP and employed 71,875 persons despite the challenges internally and externally that we have found ourselves dealing with," the JMA head said.
He urged member firms to keep abreast of industry and trade changes, even while noting that the JMA has seen growth in the commitment to research and development (R&D).
"Some companies have allocated as much as 10 per cent of revenues to R&D and product development. Manufacturers also made significant strides in the areas of asset utilisation, branding, reduction in energy consumption, as well as quality and environmental management," Pengelley said.