Export Barbados (BIDC) has come to the assistance of breadfruit exporters Shawn Holder of Holder's Food & Exports and Erasmus Alfred of E&C Marketing.
The two men recently revealed in the media that they were losing thousands of dollars because all the regular avenues to export breadfruits to their most lucrative market, England, had stopped. They explained that they had approached the air carriers and the Ministry of Agriculture but had not received any viable explanation or solution.
In a meeting this morning, Export Barbados' CEO, Mark Hill, told the exporters that since hearing of their plight, he has been collaborating with Dr. Pauline Yearwood, the Deputy Programme Manager Transport at the CARICOM Secretariat and the Ministry of Agriculture to find a solution. "We have been in discussions with Caribbean Airlines and are finding pathways to move all types of bio-trade products and so I wanted to discuss with you the immediate solution of flying the breadfruit to Trinidad to be placed on the London flights." Hill said that exports in agricultural products have been slipping, so he welcomed the opportunity to help.
In response, Holder said that there are tremendous opportunities for breadfruits. "We do not get enough breadfruits to cover the people that want breadfruits, and we are also competing with the rest of the islands as well. We were able to beat them because we had the availability of flights, and we could get the breadfruits there faster, so basically, we sent riper breadfruits, while the other islands tend to pick greener breadfruits. We sent the roaster breadfruits, which was a big boost to the people we supplied because it gave them better breadfruits. This is important because our breadfruits are the most expensive in the Caribbean because of the dollar value. Although ours is the most expensive, they prefer them because we have good quality breadfruit here as well."
Holder also said he welcomed some research into expanding and analysing the different varieties and getting the Ministry of Agriculture to conduct a breadfruit planting program.
Alfred said that he was pleased with what he was hearing, but he would also like the company to look into packaging. He said he would like to label his breadfruits and start building the Bajan breadfruit's value proposition of being superior to the rest.
Hill said Export Barbados (BIDC) was also exploring packaging through a shared-use packaging facility that would steam, clean, and vacuum pack produce. In addition, he revealed that Export Barbados (BIDC) was setting up an international food science center at Newton that would be ready in April. At this plant, research and analysis would be conducted to support the various bioproducts, which would add value to the agriculture and biotech sectors.