Sun | Sep 23, 2018

JP Foods pushing to replace bag juice with bag fruits in school

Published:Saturday | April 15, 2017 | 12:00 AM
Attorney General Marlene Malahoo Forte (right) poses with a St Mary’s banana chips presented to her by the JP Banana Mascot at a 2013 Banana Day event.
JP Tropical Foods bananas are bagged and ready for sale.

Fresh on the heels of the Ministry of Education's decision to no longer offer bag juices in schools, JP Tropical Foods has announced plans to double banana production for the back-to-school season starting September.

The company says it will also be commissioning a state-of-the art pineapple packing facility at its Chocolate Walk factory in St Mary, making fresh pineapple also easily available for snacking in schools.

"In other countries of the Caribbean, as well as Central America and Europe, where we do business, we are seeing a number of strategies being introduced by schools and parents to drive healthy eating, and, in particular, healthy snacking among students," said David Martin, chief executive officer of JP Tropical Foods. "Therefore, we cannot allow Jamaica to fall behind in this trend."

Last month, Education Minister Ruel Reid announced that come September, the state-run Nutrition Products Limited would no longer supply bag juices to public schools under the school-feeding programme.


"They are not going to be permitted to produce, package, and deliver bag juice to the schools that they currently supply. That is in keeping with the policy directive that the prime minister has activated and our nutritional policy, which we will deliver to the school system ahead of the start of the new school year," said Reid.

Martin said this year, JP Tropical Foods will be launching a campaign to help the young Jamaican population to understand the importance of a nutritional diet that supports growing minds and bodies.

According to Martin, while bananas have been the flagship fresh product offered by his company in recent times, JP Tropical Foods has invested heavily in pineapple cultivation, harvesting and packaging.

"The growth in production by late summer will come from improved yields and growing practices, as well as expanded acreage. As a result, we will be employing 308 persons to operate across 456 acres of banana and pineapple cultivations," said Martin.

... JP products free of preservatives - quality manager

Danielle Barnett, administrative and quality manager at JP Farms, noted that parent company, JP Tropical Foods, was the first agricultural entity of any kind in Jamaica to be granted ISO certification for quality and environmental standards.

"Unlike some imported produce, customers can be assured that JP's products are free from pesticide residue as we are very careful when selecting varieties that have the best-taste profile. This is because we are continuously carrying out research and experimentation to improve our yields. Today, we are confident that the Cavendish varieties that JP Foods has been growing over a generation is what our customers want and enjoy," said Barnett.

She emphasised that all JP Food's packaged snacks are free of all preservatives and have no artificial flavours and colours.