Tue | Sep 25, 2018

Growth & Jobs | Jamaican peppers wanted in Canada

Published:Tuesday | August 14, 2018 | 12:00 AMJodi-Ann Gilpin/Gleaner Writer
Michael Burgess

A call is being made for local producers, particularly those who supply peppers, to engage more with the overseas market in order for there to be greater collaboration and growth in the economy.

Michael Burgess, chief executive officer of Nerpy's Inc, a hot sauce manufacturing company based in Canada, told The Gleaner that though he yearns to collaborate with Jamaica on a very large scale, it has been difficult to get consistent supplies of pepper over the years.

"Jamaica being home, it would always be great to do business there and send some foreign currency back home, and also maintain that direct line in supporting a local entity. The challenge, however, is that anyone who I have spoken to over the years, and have made promises, all now I can't see nothing (pepper supply)," he said.

"From what I understand, majority of peppers that are grown locally, there are not enough suppliers for the buyers. All this is saying to me is that there has to be an expansion of that industry. I've made it clear that I will deal with all the importing issues on my end, but I'm yet to see someone I can get a consistent supply from, and I have spoken to many farmers."

He said his supply currently comes from Trinidad and Tobago and the Dominican Republic, but he is still hoping to one day partner with suppliers from Jamaica.

"The growers there need to go beyond the shores of Jamaica and branch out. Yes, it's easier, but the easy road isn't the most profitable and most sustainable. At the end of the day, if you're not exporting you're relatively short-sighted, in my opinion. You limit your options," Burgess stated.

jodi-ann.gilpin@gleanerjm.com