The BIDC continues in its efforts to penetrate several untapped ethnic niches within the UK,USA, Canada and Latin America. And the just concluded Barbados Network Consultation 2012 (BNC 2012) which took place August 7-10, 2012, has opened a gateway to reaching Diaspora communities in these countries.
The BIDC, as one of the main sponsors of the event, hosted an exhibitors’ booth where several companies had the opportunity to promote their locally made products and services to the Barbadian Diaspora and to establish useful linkages, which will serve long term market interests. The exhibitors included some of Barbados’ leading export firms, among them The BHL Group, Armstrong Agencies, WIBISCO, C&G Star Trading, A.M Enterprises (Aunt May’s), Roberts Manufacturing, and Hanschell Inniss.Newcomers such as Coral Isle Foods- producers of an Instant Cou Cou Mix, and non-food manufacturers like Cheggins Beauty Products, joined other long-standing companies like Medford Mahogany Creations to make their presence known.
The interactive showcase of freshly cooked food, cocktail drink mixes and product sampling was hailed by BIDC’s Manager of Export Development and Promotion, Mr. Paul Waithe, as a success. He revealed, “A number of local manufacturers were able to attract the attention of influential persons in the retail and distribution sectors in key markets, who expressed interest in their products.
Many of our clients also reported that the product sampling allowed for critical feedback regarding product taste, packaging and presentation, as well as recipe formulation.”
It is anticipated that as a result of the showcase, increased product awareness will translate into increased demand for Barbadian products in the target markets. A brochure detailing the location of current distributors and retailers in the major Diaspora market centers was made available to conference participants, many of whom were excited about the prospects of purchasing their favourite local brands overseas.
The Corporation’s efforts to penetrate the Diaspora market are largely driven through its Market Development Programmes in Toronto, New York and London. Exports to the US under the Market Development Programme, came in at Bds$6.3 million for fiscal period April 2011 to Mar 2012 as compared to Bds$4.6 m in the previous year. This was a very positive performance by most of the eighteen (18) companies involved in the programme. During that period, UK exports sales amounted to Bds$1.12 million as compared to Bds$1.09 million at the end of March 2011.
Barbadian products from twelve (12) companies, including seasonings, savoury sauces and marinades, jams, jellies, chutneys, bakery products, beverages and cordials and a board game were being promoted in the UK. Chocolates, confectioneries, Bajan cou-cou mix, and non-food products such as craft and jewellery, CDs on cricket icons and figurines are now being considered as potential products for that market. In an effort to regain some share of the Canadian market, the BIDC sought to expand the placement of Barbadian foods in specialty stores and other retail outlets.
This was in a bid to strengthen distribution arrangements for Barbadian products in this key market.
BIDC’s initiatives will continue into 2012-2013 to further expand the distribution network for Barbadian products in Canada. In particular, Nova Scotia, Quebec and British Columbia have been identified as provinces with potential. And following the exploratory political/commercial mission to Panama and Costa Rica facilitated by the BIDC October 17–27, 2011, efforts are now underway to capitalize on interest expressed in those markets, with a view to expanding trade to this region.