Wednesday 4th October, 2006

 

All not well with food and beverage industry - Valley

 
 
 
 
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By Ian Gooding

“T&T 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.

“However, 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,” he added.

“Recent 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 Taylor.

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 country’s 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 food industry.

 

 

 

 

 

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