THE HEAD OF A Barbados delegation in China last week has concluded that there is scope for the island to develop an industry using coconuts.
Leslie Brereton, who is senior agricultural officer at the Ministry of Agriculture, in a commentary published by the ministry last week, said China had opened the delegation’s eyes to the possibilities.
The delegation included representatives involved in agro-processing and agri-technology. They visited Chunguang, Foodstuff Co. Ltd and Hainan Xia Da Food Factory.
“When you think of coconuts, the average Barbadian will conjure images of street side coconut vendors plying their trade along the ABC Highway. Not so in China,” Brereton reported.
“Our delegation was not only impressed by the sheer scale of the automated operations, as product throughout totalled several tonnes per day, but also by the focus on [research and development] and new product development,” he said.
“What was foremost in the minds of delegates during the tour of these two companies was what can be done to bring local agro-processors to a similar level of sophistication of production in terms of operating within facilities which meet a number of international standards, using market trends to produce new products and seeking non-traditional markets.”
Both of the companies the Barbados delegation visited are “specialising in producing coconut products in a wide range of product categories including confectioneries and beverages” and they export to more than 40 countries, Brereton pointed out.
“Chunguang, Foodstuff Co. Ltd. was established in 1996 and specialises in producing coconut candy as well as coconut flavoured teas and coffee, while Hainan Xia Da Food Factory was established in 1997 and mainly produces coconut beverages combined with other fruits such as pineapple, root crops such as cassava and even peanuts,” he said.
He attributed their success to various factors including access to finance, compliance with international standards, and new product development based on traditional culinary practices. (SC)