may be losing its market share regionally and internationally
in some core food products, said Minister of Trade and
Industry Ken Valley yesterday.
The local food and beverage manufacturing sector contributes
roughly $2.5 billion or 45 per cent of total manufacturing
sector Gross Domestic Product (GDP), with an average growth
rate of 8.1 per cent and over $828 million of merchandise
exports, he stated.
in spite of our success (Angostura, Bermudez, SM Jaleel, KC
Confectionery, Caribbean Development Company, Associated brands),
all is not well in the domestic food and beverage industry,
estimates from the Central Statistical Office indicate that
the value of food imports increased by as much as $354.6 million
or 20 per cent between 2001 and 2004.
Minister Valley was speaking yesterday at the first-ever Symposium
for Research, development and Innovation in the Food and Beverage
Industry at the Arthur Lok Jack Graduate School of Business,
and organised by Food and Beverage Industry Development Committee
chaired by Tim Nafzinger and coordinated by Dr Gail Baccus
Valley said that a Study of Competitiveness commissioned by
the Ministry of Trade indicated that the export growth rate
of products like beverages, alcohol, sugars and edible oils,
to Caricom and US markets was increasing at a slower rate
than the growth in imports of these products to the two regions,
from extra-regional sources.
Meanwhile, he said, food prices have increased by as much
as 24.7 per cent year-on-year as of August 2006, according
to the Central Bank.
Valley called on manufacturers to change their mind-set from
being domestic and regional to international producers, citing
this countrys bilateral agreements with Cuba, the DR,
Venezuela, Colombia and Costa Rica as areas of opportunities.
He noted that the private sector invested a mere 0.02 per
cent of GDP in Research and Development compared to two per
cent in more developed countries. On a national level, the
figure was roughly zero point one per cent.
He expressed the hope that the symposium bringing together
the stakeholders in the industry would develop an action plan
to move the sector forward.
Valley said a secretariat had been established in the Business
development company to implement projects related to the food
and beverage industry, and the government was ready and willing
to support the implementation of the action plan.
Also addressing the symposium were Liaquat Ali Shah, CEO of
Cariri and businessman Gary Voss who called on the government
to take the leading role in driving the development of the