Mon | Nov 20, 2017

Jamaica Producers to sell pineapples to Cayman, other markets

Published:Wednesday | November 1, 2017 | 12:00 AMAvia Collinder
In this June 2011 file photo, CEO of Jamaica Producers Group, Jeffrey Hall, holds up a pineapple produced on the company's farms.

Jamaica Producers Group Limited (JP), which is currently searching for a specialist farm manager for pineapple production, said it is now making headway on plans to expand markets for the fruit.

Production yields are expected to climb next year by 17 per cent, and Producers is eyeing other markets as volumes grow.

"The export plans for this year primarily involve regional markets such as The Cayman Islands, where we are already present with bananas," said Group CEO Jeffrey Hall.

Hall said the market for pineapples is about 25 per cent of that of bananas - the company's main produce - but is growing more rapidly. The main distribution channel for both fruit remains the retail sector, but tourism continues to grow, he said.

The specialist manager being recruited for JP's pineapple operation is meant to "support growth in line with international best practices", the CEO said. The company simultaneously has been working on a cold storage facility, which is due for commissioning this month.

"It's a $130-million invest-ment," Hall said.

In 2016, JP almost doubled its farm acreages in St Mary for the pineapple orchard. The fruit takes 14 months from planting to harvest.

"We will have 100 acres of pineapple and 400 acres of banana in cultivation next year, with 200 full time employees directly engaged in farming and another 200 engaged in food processing and marketing and distribution. We expect overall production yields to increase 17 per cent year over year for 2018," Hall said.

He adds that the company is otherwise doing "a number of bold things" to modernise its fresh produce operations. The aim, he said, is to keep abreast of market trends for towards healthy eating and demand for more convenient access to high-quality fresh produce, and to tap into expanding channels in the tourism sector and major supermarket chains.

JP's fruit processing divisions secured Global GAP certification - an internationally recognised set of standards for farm cultivation - in October. The company will be rolling out a new marketing campaign highlighting the "natural farm fresh" attributes of JP fresh produce and positioning them as "the best value" for Jamaican consumers, Hall said.

avia.collinder@gleanerjm.com