Jamaican Delegation Arrives in Tokyo for FOODEX Japan: Asia’s Premier Food Trade Show

A Jamaican delegation comprising Associated Manufacturers Limited (Walkerswood), Seprod Limited, Jamaican Teas Limited, and Mavis Bank Coffee Factory Limited, has arrived in Tokyo, Japan, to participate in the 49th International Food and Beverage Exhibition (FOODEX Japan 2024), Asia’s largest food trade show. The event is set to commence today, March 5, 2024, at the Tokyo Big Sight Exhibition Centre, through to March 8.

Led by Richard Pandohie, Past President of the Jamaica Manufacturers and Exporters Association (JMEA), the delegation arrived on site yesterday to set up their booths under the banner of the National Pavilion, “Taste of Jamaica,” with the objective of showcasing the vibrant flavours and rich culinary heritage of Jamaica to the Asian market.

“I feel a tremendous sense of pride in leading the Jamaican delegation to FOODEX Japan 2024, the largest food and beverage expo in Asia. Last year, through the tremendous effort of the Jamaican Embassy to Japan, a team from the JMEA was able to observe firsthand what FOODEX is about and the potential opportunities it offers to Jamaican exporters,” said Pandohie.

Pandohie highlighted that this year’s participation was made possible through collaborative efforts by Jamaican Ambassador Shorna-Kay Richards and her team, support from the Ministry of Industry Investment and Commerce (MIIC), the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Jamaica Promotion Corporation (JAMPRO), the JMEA and the Japan Manufacturers Association.

The tastes of Jamaica will be on full display as the companies seek to increase the presence of Jamaica’s premium food and beverage products in the Japanese and other markets. Walkerswood is set to feature its jerk seasonings, green seasoning, curry paste, and pepper sauces, with the sampling of jerk chicken prepared using its seasoning. Jamaican Teas Limited will showcase their variety of teas and soup mixes, with samples of their soups available for tasting. Seprod Limited will present their festival mix, Delite sorrel juice drink, and Supligen liquid meal supplements. Mavis Bank Coffee Factory Limited will exhibit their premium coffee-infused rum cakes and chocolates.

Pandohie highlighted that Jamaica Blue Mountain Coffee has been a tremendous success in Japan, paving the way for other Jamaican products to get a piece of Japan’s US$800 billion food and beverage market.

He added, “I am excited and nervous about the business possibilities; but just being here is already a win. We are demonstrating that Jamaica is about enhancing bilateral trade with Japan, especially in the year that both countries are celebrating 60 years of diplomatic relations. We are demonstrating that Jamaican companies are serious about doing business on the biggest platforms globally.”

With a primary emphasis on boosting exports and broadening market penetration, the delegation aims to leverage the robust demand in Japan for Jamaican products, including coffee, rums, spirits, seasonings, and condiments.

Ambassador Shorna-Kay Richards said, “We are thrilled to represent Jamaica at FOODEX Japan 2024 and very eager to introduce Japanese consumers to the exceptional quality and diversity of Jamaican food and beverage products.”

Additionally, she disclosed that several companies within the delegation have already finalized meetings with potential buyers to delve into market entry opportunities. Furthermore, she has coordinated a supermarket observation tour which will offer the delegation invaluable insights into the Japanese retail landscape.

The event will kick off with an opening ceremony on March 5, where Jamaica will be represented by Ambassador Shorna-Kay Richards and Richard Pandohie. On Wednesday, March 6, Ambassador Richards will also host a cocktail reception to provide a valuable opportunity for the delegation to network with Japanese government officials and private sector entities.

This will be Jamaica’s second participation in FOODEX Japan, with the first being 23 years ago when JAMPRO led a group including coffee producers Salada Foods, Jamaica Coffee Company, Coffee Industries, Jamaica Standard Products, jerk sauce producers Suntrax Enterprises, and GraceKennedy Ltd. Since then, Jamaica has reaped substantial rewards, with Japan becoming the top market for Jamaica Blue Mountain Coffee.

Organized by the Japan Manufacturers Association (JMA), FOODEX Japan attracts over 70,000 visitors, including supermarkets, hypermarkets, wholesalers, grocery stores, food service and hospitality industries, fast-food chains, convenience stores, distributors, importers, agents, and brokers. The four-day trade show boasts more than 2,500 exhibitors from over 70 countries, offering a dynamic platform for international trade and collaboration.

JMEA and Honey Bun Foundation Announce One-Year SME Accelerator Programme

The Jamaica Manufacturers and Exporters Association (JMEA) and the Honey Bun Foundation have announced the second iteration of a one-year Small to Medium Enterprises (SME) development programme aimed at stimulating growth in the country’s SME sector.

During the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signing, President of the JMEA, Sydney Thwaites, stated, “I am delighted to endorse the second iteration of the SME Accelerator Programme. The programme will be guided by the Advisory Committee Model developed by The Honey Bun Foundation, which the JMEA will adopt. This initiative ensures that member companies, with 70 percent categorized as ‘small companies,’ have access to the expertise needed for expansion and job creation in Jamaica.”

The Honey Bun Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Honey Bun Limited, developed the Advisory Committee Model as part of its mandate to create various business empowerment models for SMEs to help them grow and thrive. The one-year program will focus on numerous initiatives to facilitate the development and growth of SMEs. This includes pairing qualifying SMEs with teams of expert advisors from various fields. The SMEs will follow the guidance of the experts for a period of 12 months, utilizing a strategic roadmap developed by the Foundation.

General Manager of The Honey Bun Foundation Nashauna Lalah, said at the signing, “This is how you effect real change in the sector-by collaborating. I am happy that having done a test model in 2023, the JMEA has seen the value of The Honey Bun Foundation’s Advisory Committee model and how it can benefit its members.”

Sydney Thwaites expressed his enthusiasm, saying, “I feel very strongly about my experience with the Honey Bun Foundation and what I saw in the methodology, the structure, the caring, the accountability. I think it’s the best process I’ve seen, and so I was very excited to get on board with the JMEA. I look forward to the JMEA being able to gain an extension of the foundation and ensure we carry it out in the spirit in which it was created.”

Executive Director of the JMEA, Kamesha Blake, said, “When we look at the structure of the programme, we see that it has great value and impact. Thus, it wasn’t a question of whether we would continue; rather, it’s a matter of how we can scale and encourage more members to sign on. As we progress through this cohort, we contemplate scaling even further because the more members we impact, the greater the opportunity for that multiplier effect, which is crucial for everyone. Small and medium-sized businesses are the heart and soul of our economy. If they succeed, so too does our economy and so I welcome all initiatives and measures that help SMEs realize their full potential”.

The SME Accelerator Programme is set to kickstart later this month and will match five JMEA member companies from four sectors—Beauty and Cosmetics, Food and Beverage, Digital Service Provider, and Construction. The goal is to upscale the SMEs, drive job creation, and increase economic activity.

Having mapped out the programme in 2022 through test studies, this is the third full cohort for the Foundation and the first for the JMEA. The Foundation continues its quest to have the model adopted by other Business Support Organizations so that more SMEs across the island can benefit not only by growing their business to profitability but also by grounding them in sound Corporate Governance practices.

 

About JMEA

The Jamaica Manufacturers & Exporters Association (JMEA) is Jamaica’s leading industry association, serving as the voice of exporters, manufacturers, service providers, micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs). We provide vital support to our members and the industry through advocacy, strategic partnerships, export services, research, capacity building, and access to finance. Our aim is to contribute to the growth and sustainability of Jamaican businesses and the economy.

 

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For more information, please contact:

Shanique Gordon, Marketing, PR & Events Manager

Email: shanique@jmea.org | Phone:876-817-5638

 

Jamaica Strengthens Economic Ties with Courtesy Visit to Japanese Ambassador Ahead of FOODEX Japan

The Jamaica Manufacturers and Exporters Association (JMEA) took a significant step towards enhancing economic cooperation and bilateral trade between Jamaica and Japan with a courtesy visit to His Excellency Yasuhiro Atsumi, Japanese Ambassador to Jamaica. This visit sets the stage for FOODEX Japan 2024, Asia’s largest food trade show scheduled for March 5-8, 2024.

During the visit, discussions focused on identifying export opportunities, emphasising high-quality Jamaican products. The conversations revealed a strong demand in Japan for Jamaican products such as coffee, rums, spirits, seasonings, and condiments. Consideration was also given to non-food products with potential success in the Japanese market.

Sydney Thwaites, President of the JMEA, emphasized the strategic significance of FOODEX Japan, stating, “FOODEX Japan serves as an invaluable platform for our members to showcase their products and explore new business prospects in the Asian market. As Jamaica and Japan celebrate 60 years of diplomatic relationship, these initiatives underscore the commitment to building enduring economic and cultural bridges between the two nations, with both countries always aiming to treat each other as equals and seek win-win cooperation.”

In collaboration with Ambassador Shorna-Kay Richards, Jamaica Ambassador to Japan, the Ministry of Industry, Investment and Commerce (MIIC), and the Jamaica Promotion Corporation (JAMPRO), the JMEA will lead the execution of a National Pavilion, “Taste of Jamaica” featuring four local companies: Seprod Ltd, Jamaican Teas Ltd, Associated Manufacturers Ltd (Walkerswood), and Mavis Bank Coffee Factory Ltd.

Organized by the Japan Manufacturers Association (JMA), the three-day trade show will take place at the Tokyo Big Sight Convention Center. FOODEX Japan, the largest annual food trade show in Asia, attracts over 70,000 visitors, including supermarkets, hypermarkets, wholesalers, grocery stores, food service and hospitality, fast-food chains, convenience stores, distributors, importers, and agents & brokers. The event hosts more than 2,500 exhibitors from 70 countries.

Looking ahead to FOODEX Japan, Kamesha Blake, Executive Director of the JMEA, highlighted the trade show’s significance, “This event is a gateway to the Japanese and Asian food markets, offering an excellent opportunity for Jamaica to capitalize on cultural connections, expanding market reach even in areas such as tourism and sports.”

This will be Jamaica’s second participation in FOODEX Japan, with the first being in 2001 when JAMPRO led a group including coffee producers Salada Foods, Jamaica Coffee Company, Coffee Industries, Jamaica Standard Products, jerk sauce producers Suntrax Enterprises, and Grace Kennedy Ltd. Since then, Jamaica has reaped substantial rewards, with Japan becoming the top market for Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee.

 

About JMEA

The Jamaica Manufacturers & Exporters Association (JMEA) is Jamaica’s leading industry association, serving as the voice of exporters, manufacturers, service providers, micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs). We provide vital support to our members and the industry through advocacy, strategic partnerships, export services, research, capacity building, and access to finance. Our aim is to contribute to the growth and sustainability of Jamaican businesses and the economy.

 

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For more information, please contact:

Shanique Gordon, Marketing, PR & Events Manager

Email: shanique@jmea.org | Phone:876-817-5638

Local Manufacturers host Secondary and Tertiary Students for Manufacturers’ Month Tours

In celebration of National Manufacturers’ Month 2023, the Jamaica Manufacturers and Exporters Association (JMEA), in a coordinated effort with five of its member companies, opened its doors to 80 high school and tertiary students to tour their facilities throughout October. The tours were part of a comprehensive effort to inspire the next generation of manufacturers by showcasing the outstanding opportunities and current realities of high-tech manufacturing careers.

The tours allowed students to step behind the scenes, offering them an exclusive opportunity to explore the inner workings of local manufacturing operations, learn about local training programmes in trades and advanced manufacturing and gain insights into the abundant and lucrative job opportunities within the industry. Additionally, the facilitators provided the students with in-depth insights into their roles, sharing their own personal educational, training backgrounds, and recounting the journeys that led them to their careers.

Kamesha Blake, Executive Director of the JMEA, said, “Given the persistent skills shortage that hinders productivity, we believe that highlighting quality jobs in the industry during National Manufacturers’ Month, is an opportunity for us as manufacturers to proactively shape the public perception of manufacturing. With this initiative we aim to bridge the gap between companies and the next generation and address the ongoing shortage of qualified talent. By providing this exposure, we aspire to ignite the interest of the upcoming workforce, with the potential to establish a continuous stream of skilled and diverse talent to bolster the industry’s growth.”

Students toured a wide spectrum of industry-specific companies, encompassing sectors such as food and beverage, clothing and textiles, and construction. The participating companies included Caribbean Cement Company Limited, Designs by Marc, Trade Winds Citrus Limited, and Caribbean Producers Jamaica (CPJ) Juice Plant.

Mr. McIntyre, an Upper School teacher at Jamaica College, commended the JMEA for their outstanding initiative. He expressed, “The students genuinely appreciated the valuable practical experience and exposure that allowed them to gain insights into the local manufacturing industry and the array of career opportunities it offers. This tour also unveiled career paths that were previously unknown to the students, including fields like engineering, logistics, legal professions, and business development. The tour directly complemented the students’ in-school learning, providing an incredible opportunity for them to explore manufacturing facilities and witness the entire process, from conception to completion, in the production of cement. The tour guides were both engaging and well-informed.”

Blake shared that workforce development begins far sooner than when someone lands their first job and the best way to understand the local manufacturing industry and the career opportunities it holds, is through first-hand experience and exposure. “Many individuals often view manufacturing industry roles as primarily involving manual labour. However, this industry is one of the most advanced and high tech. By showcasing the myriad opportunities and reshaping the public perception of these roles, we aim to reflect the industry’s status as one of the most cutting-edge and technologically advanced sectors.”

Marc Frankson, Operations Manager at Designs by Marc, said ” We’ve been in the fashion business for three generations as a family, so we really understand the importance of fostering the next generation of talent in Jamaica. By inviting these aspiring fashion designers to see how we work, we want to inspire and support them in following their dreams. We hope this experience will show them how a different side of the fashion industry works and motivate them to pursue their passions, which we hope will make our local fashion scene even better.

The tours provided valuable educational opportunities, allowing students to explore the wide array of skilled and lucrative manufacturing careers available right here at home. The tours also served as a conduit for students to connect with potential manufacturing employers.

Blake posited, ” As the program continues to grow, we look forward to welcoming more students in the years to come and to secure internships or full-time employment for students with an interest in the industry”.

National Manufacturers Month is observed each October on an annual basis. Its fundamental goal is to dispel prevalent misconceptions surrounding manufacturing by affording manufacturers the opportunity to provide a clear and authentic depiction of what manufacturing truly entails, as well as debunking what it is not.

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Contact:

For more information, please contact:
Shanique Gordon, Marketing, PR & Events Manager
Email:shanique@jmea.org | Phone:876-817-5638

Jamaica Manufacturers and Exporters Association (JMEA) Celebrates Excellence at the M&E Awards Gala 2023

The Jamaica Manufacturers and Exporters Association (JMEA) proudly hosted the much-anticipated M&E Awards Gala on Saturday, September 30, 2023, at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel. This grand event was a celebration of excellence and innovation in Jamaica’s manufacturing and export sectors.

The M&E Awards Gala is an annual highlight on the calendar of the JMEA, recognizing and honouring outstanding achievements within the country’s manufacturing and export industries. This year’s gala was marked by elegance and sophistication, drawing inspiration from the iconic world of James Bond.

The event commenced at 6:00 p.m., and guests were welcomed with martinis upon entrance during the radiant red-carpet reception. Here, guests not only showcased their elegant attire but also struck their best 007 poses. This was followed by a delightful cocktail hour where guests engaged in lively conversations with their fellow industry peers, political leaders, and technocrats. Guests also had the opportunity to participate in a silent auction.

At 7:00 p.m., the doors opened to a magnificent Casino Royale ballroom adorned with martini glasses and card deck centerpieces that perfectly captured the theme. Television and radio presenter Debbie Bissoon, taking on the role of M, and Marc Frankson, Director of the JMEA, channeling the essence of 007, skillfully directed the evening’s proceedings with charisma and finesse, ensuring that the audience remained captivated and entertained throughout the night.

Guests were treated to incredible performances by Jamaican music sensations Carl Scharschmidt and Ahbi Kufa. They graced the evening with renditions of timeless James Bond theme songs and melodious jazz tunes during dinner.

  • Radiant Shanique Ellington, of Le Champ Cosmetics, beams with pride as she receives the Consular Corps of Jamaica Next Generation Leadership Award from Robert Scott of the Consular Corps of Jamaica.

The pinnacle of the evening was undoubtedly the awards ceremony, where a total of 26 awards were presented to distinguished companies and outstanding individuals who have made significant contributions to the Jamaican economy through their outstanding achievements in their respective industries.

The biggest winner of the night was The Wisynco Group, copping 3 Awards: The National Certification Body of Jamaica (NCBJ) Award for Quality and Standards (Large Company), Charles Henderson Award for Breakthrough Product/Service of the Year; and The JMEA-VM Group Legacy Award.

Red Stripe, J. Wray and Nephew, P.A. Benjamins, and Designs by Marc emerged as prominent contenders in the competition, securing two awards each. Red Stripe claimed The Jamaica Productivity Centre Award for Productivity and Competitiveness and the JMEA Best Digital Ad Campaign Award. J. Wray and Nephew earned two of the most coveted awards of the night: The Prime Minister’s Awards for Large Champion Exporter in Manufacturing and the Governor General’s Awards for Exporter of the Year.

Designs by Marc walked away with the JAMPRO Awards for Small Champion Top Exporter for Manufacturing and the newly established VM Group JMEARA Award that recognizes the company with the highest enrolment of employees in the JMEA-VM group pension scheme. P.A. Benjamins received The National Certification Body of Jamaica (NCBJ) Award for Quality and Standards for MSME and the Paulette Rhoden Award for Medium Champion Exporter in Manufacturing.

This year, the JMEA introduced five new awards, with three of them recognizing individuals rather than companies. Marcia Nicely of Designs by Marc was honoured with the Woman in Manufacturing & Export Award. The JMEA Icon Award was posthumously bestowed upon the Jamaican business giant and founder of the LASCO Affiliated Companies, Hon. Lascelles Chin. In the category of Best Performing Manufacturer – Junior Market, the recipient was Blue Power Group Limited, while Carib Cement Company Limited was recognized as the Best Performing Manufacturer in the Main Market.

Among the other award recipients, Jamaica Macaroni Factory Limited was honoured with the Jamaica Energy Resilience Alliance Award for Energy Efficiency. Technological Solutions Limited won the Pauline Grey Award for Best Support Service. Digicel Group won the Vision 2030 Corporate Social Responsibility Award, while The Nicola Gordon Rowe Buy Jamaican Award was presented to L’Jhean Beauty Limited.

The Jamaica Productivity Centre for Productivity and Competitiveness, MSME Award was won by Home Choice Enterprise Limited. CAMKO Manufacturing and Hotel Supplies Limited claimed the Ambassador Peter King Award for New Exporter of the Year. Tropicks365 was bestowed with the Jamaica Emerging Manufacturer and Services of the Year Award. Dawson Trading Company Limited was honoured with The Ray Hadeed Award for Best Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprise.

Shanique Ellington of Le Champ Cosmetics earned this year’s Consular Corps of Jamaica Next Generation Leadership Award, while Seprod Limited successfully retained The Governor General’s Award for Manufacturer of the Year.

The JMEA’s President, Mr. Sydney Thwaites, had the honour of delivering the welcome and opening remarks. Under the theme ‘Adapt Innovation, Embrace Productivity to Drive Global Success’, he underscored the critical importance of embracing innovation and productivity to achieve global excellence. Mr. Thwaites pointed out that we are currently navigating an era characterized by constant change and globalization. He also acknowledged that the challenges brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic and extreme weather events have revealed vulnerabilities in the traditional supply chain. Importantly, he emphasized that these challenges should not be underestimated but instead serve as a stark reminder of the pivotal role innovation and productivity can play in overcoming them. In closing, he emphasized that to truly increase the reach of our business beyond our borders, we must ‘Adapt Innovation, Embrace Productivity to Drive Global Success’.

This year’s M&E Awards was supported by Title Sponsor, VM Group; Exclusive Sponsor, Red Stripe; Niche Sponsors: J Wray and Nephew Limited, Tourism Enhancement Fund (TEF)/Tourism Linkages Network (TLN) and the Jamaica Pegasus; Gold Sponsors: Caribbean Producers (Jamaica) Ltd, TVJ & JNN (RJR Gleaner Communications Group), Wisynco Group, Thomovybes and Pepsi Cola Jamaica. Silver Sponsors: Fleetwood, The Jamaica Observer, Grace Foods Latin America and Caribbean Division and Lithographic Printers Limited. Bronze Sponsors: National Export Import (EXIM) Bank Jamaica, Seaboard Freight & Shipping Ja. Ltd, FOSKA Oats, Rainforest Caribbean, Visa, Jamaican Teas, Jamaica Producers/Pan Jamaica Group, Nationwide News Network and Appliance Traders Limited (ATL).

Awards Sponsors were the Jamaica Productivity Centre, The National Commercial Bank Limited (NCB), National Certifications body of Jamaica (NCBJ), The CADMUS Group, the Jamaica Business Development Corporation (JBDC),Jamaica Stock Exchange (JSE), Planning Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ) – Vision 2030, Jamaica Promotions Corporation (JAMPRO), Consular Corps of Jamaica, VM Group and Exim Bank Jamaica.

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For more information, please contact:

Shanique Gordon, Marketing, PR & Events Manager

Email:shanique@jmea.org | Phone:876-817-5638

35+ Companies Compete in 23 Award Categories for JMEA M&E Awards

Nearly 200 guests gathered Tuesday eveningat the BMW ATL Autobahn Showroom for the highly anticipated Jamaica Manufacturers and Exporters Association (JMEA) M&E Awards, Nomination Event.Recognition was given to 35 companies and 14 outstanding individuals vying for 23 awards.

The JMEA M&E Awards Nomination Event brought together industry leaders, stakeholders, and nominees to celebrate the outstanding achievements of businesses and commitment of leaders in the manufacturing and export industry. The event provided a platform for the nominees to be officially recognized for their exceptional contributions to the nation’s economy.

Minister Aubyn Hill in bringing remarks noted the contribution of the industry to the growth and development of Jamaica and highlighted the work of the Ministry and its agencies commitment to reduce red tape and create opportunities through several trade missions been led by him. Outgoing President, John Mahfood also used the opportunity to highlight the need for manufacturers to strategically identify and penetrate new markets as companies need to aggressively pursue exports.

Since 2018 the rebranded M&E Awards seek to recognize the companies and individuals in a diverse range of categories that reflect the vibrancy and versatility of the local manufacturing and export industry. This year, four new award categories were added. The categories included: Women in Manufacturing & Export, The Icon Award, Best Performing Manufacturer, Junior Market and Best Performing Manufacturer, Main Market.

Kamesha Blake, Executive Director of the JMEA said, “the additions aim to further recognize and celebrate excellence, innovation, and the faces behind the success. It also demonstrates JMEA’s commitment to staying at the forefront of industry developments and recognizing the multifaceted achievements of Jamaican businesses”.

The JMEA M&E Awards have become an annual tradition to honour outstanding achievements, innovation, and commitment within the manufacturing and export industries in Jamaica. The awards highlight the contributions of businesses, entrepreneurs, and professionals who have demonstrated excellence in various categories, promoting growth and sustainability.

The M&E Awards will culminate in a grand gala event to be held on Saturday, September 30that the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel, Kingston. This prestigious event will bring together industry leaders, government officials, diplomats, and representatives from various sectors to celebrate the nominees and announce the winners of each category.

Nominees and attendees can look forward to an evening filled with entertainment, networking, and inspiring speeches from industry luminaries.

About JMEA

The Jamaica Manufacturers & Exporters Association (JMEA) is Jamaica’s leading industry association, serving as the voice of exporters, manufacturers, service providers, micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs). We provide vital support to our members and the industry through advocacy, strategic partnerships, export services, research, capacity building, and access to finance. Our aim is to contribute to the growth and sustainability of Jamaican businesses and the economy.

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For more information, please contact:

Shanique Gordon, Marketing, PR & Events Manager

Email:shanique@jmea.org| Phone:876-817-5638

Sydney Thwaites Elected as New President of The JMEA for 2023/2024

KINGSTON, Jamaica: The Jamaica Manufacturers and Exporters Association (JMEA) is pleased to announce that Sydney Thwaites, Co-founder, and Chief Executive Officer of Lubricating Specialties Company Jamaica has been elected the new President of the Association. He will serve in the capacity for the period 2023/2024.

The unanimous decision was made earlier today during the Association’s Annual General Meeting (AGM) held at the National Commercial Bank (NCB) Sports Complex.

Mr. Thwaites assumes the role from Chief Executive Officer at Jamaica Teas Limited, John Mahfood who served as President of the Association for two consecutive terms, 2021/2022 and 2022/2023.

Mr. Mahfood served the Association with excellence and is recognized for fervently championing the needs of the membership and with a passion for advocating for the growth and development of the Jamaican Micro, Small and Medium Enterprise (MSME) sector. During his tenure, the Association signed a MOU with the JSE to drive the number of manufacturing companies listed on the stock market and with the VM Group to establish a group pension scheme for the industry. Under Mahfood’s leadership, Expo Jamaica returned in 2023 after a hiatus due to the COVID-19 Pandemic.

Mr. Thwaites comes to the table as a seasoned business leader, with a career spanning 28 years in the financial services, petrochemicals, and consulting industries. In 2015 and 2016 he served as an Advisory Committee Member for the Export Import (EXIM) Bank of the United States. Additionally, with his over three (3) years of service on the JMEA Board of Directors, through his appointments as Deputy President and Treasurer, Mr. Thwaites has proven to be a valued addition to the Association’s leadership team.

In his acceptance speech, Mr. Thwaites affirmed that the mandate and priorities of the Association remain unchanged. He pledged to carry forward the initiatives initiated by Past Presidents, Richard Pandohie and John Mahfood. He emphasized that our manufacturing sector does not require any novel strategies; instead, it simply needs a steadfast commitment to our current approach.

He encouraged the membership to utilize the JMEA as a tool to engage and collaborate. Mr. Thwaites stated, “the era of keeping our cards closed and not openly sharing our successes and challenges has passed; we cannot conduct business in such a manner.”

Deputy President of the Association is now Kathryn Silvera, Director of Sales & Marketing Caribbean Foods Limited assuming the role from, Syndney Thwaites. Robert Scott, General Manager, Lifespan Company Limited was re-elected as Treasurer.

Nine Director positions became available during the election of the new board. The successful candidates were: Cecil Foster, Managing Director at FosRich Group of Companies; Novlet Green, General Manager of Corporate Affairs Manager at ARC Manufacturing Limited; Lisa Johnston, Corporate Affairs Manager at Jamaica Producers Group; Marc Frankson,  Operations Manager at Designs by Marc; Aswad Morgan, Director of the Morgan’s Group; David Martin, Director Business Consultant at the Pan Jamaica Group; Tamii Brown, General Manager at Salada Foods; Stephen Bell, Vice President at Seaport Marine and John Minott, Managing Director at Jamaica Standard Products Limited.

In addition to the nine newly elected Directors, the following candidates retained their positions, now forming the JMEA’s Board of Directors for 2023-2024:

Andrew Wildish, General Manager, Grace Foods Processing, Canning Division; Mr. Richard Coe, Managing Director, Fleetwood Jamaica; Kareema Muncey, Managing Director, Home Choice Enterprise Limited; Jerome Miles, General Manager, Rainforest Seafoods; Clover Moodie, Chief Financial Officer, Kingston Wharves Limited; Stephen Dawkins, Group Export Manager, Wisynco Group Limited; Christopher Powell, Director/Factory Manager, P. A. Benjamin Manufacturing Co. Ltd; Brett Wong, Managing Director, Coldfield Manufacturing; Sandra McLeish, Managing Director, Sankhard Company Limited.

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Contact:

For more information, please contact:
Shanique Gordon, Marketing, PR & Events Manager
Email:shanique@jmea.org | Phone:876-817-5638

JMEA and IDB Strengthen Collaboration with HEART/ NSTA Trust – National Tool & Engineering Institute to Foster Manufacturing Sector Skills Council

On Tuesday, September 19, 2023, the Jamaica Manufacturers and Exporters Association (JMEA) and the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) jointly conducted a courtesy visit to the HEART/ NSTA Trust – National Tool & Engineering Institute, located at 7 Ashenheim Road, Kingston. This visit was an integral step toward the establishment of a Manufacturing Sector Skills Council.

The Manufacturing Skills Council is a visionary initiative driven by JMEA and the IDB aimed to reduce skills gaps and shortages, by enhancing the development of skilled workforces through the creation of a broader range of industry-relevant training programmes. The objective is to create a diverse and adaptable range of training programmes that align with the evolving demands of a modern manufacturing industry. This would ultimately increase opportunities to boost the skills and contribution of everyone in the industry’s workforce which would drive productivity and seek to not only fuel the industry’s growth but also ensure Jamaica remains competitive in the global arena.

The importance of this initiative is underscored by the recent renewal of the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between JMEA and HEART/ NSTA Trust. The renewed MOU reaffirms both parties’ shared commitment to advancing workforce development by expanding training programmes that not only align with industry needs but also remain adaptable to emerging trends and technologies.

Outgoing President of the JMEA, John Mahfood shared that the availability of skilled labour is a pivotal concern for the advancement of both the manufacturing sector and Jamaica as a whole. He said, “Our collaboration with HEART/NSTA Trust constitutes a crucial component of our Association’s long-term strategic plans. We find ourselves at a juncture where a scarcity of appropriately skilled labour could hinder the growth of our sector which is precisely why we have joined hands with HEART/NSTA Trust to produce a workforce that not only possesses the requisite skills but is also equipped to meet the evolving demands of modern manufacturing and associated industries, thus bolstering our sector’s vitality.”

Managing Director of HEART/NSTA Trust, Dr. Taneisha Ingleton,  reiterated the importance of having a skilled labour force available. She shared that the manufacturing sector holds a prominent position among the eight key sectors that shape the programmes at HEART/NSTA Trust and as such the Trust has dedicated full attention to the manufacturing sector in its ongoing strategic plan for the upcoming five years.

“Our focus is on substantial physical upgrades and development, and we are allocating $2.4 billion over the next three years to initiatives in manufacturing and related sectors, including agriculture, logistics, and the automotive industry. This decision is rooted in our recognition that if we aspire to achieve meaningful transformation and expedite growth and development within our nation we must give the manufacturing sector our utmost attention,” said Dr. Taneisha Ingleton.

Kamesha Turner Blake, Executive Director of the JMEA in providing an overview on the tour and the broader vision of the collaboration with the IDB, HEART/NSTA and the JMEA noted that in April, a group from all three entities were part of a delegation that visited the UK to study their apprentice model with an objective to adopt a more modernised model in Jamaica. The UK Apprenticeship Programme is well established and very focused on outcomes as it combines practical training in a job, with studying targeted at people who are new to a job or in a role that requires training, thereby promoting life-long learning. The programmes are industry-led, which see private firms making a substantial investment into the development of industry standards for specific training / skills and recruiting suitable people. The visit came out of the engagement in the UK, to ensure that the industry has  firsthand knowledge as to the programmes available at HEART/NSTA targeting the industry also to discuss the needs.

Turner Blake outlined that the establishment of a Manufacturing Sector Skills Council is very timely to ensure that major stakeholders sit at the table to develop occupational standards and skills solutions for the industry. This is critical to drive the National Five-Year Manufacturing Strategy, launched in 2020, which puts forward initiatives to grow the contribution of the industry to GDP by December 2025, to J$81 billion. She noted that “We are already seeing large-scale investments on the horizon or just completed, e.g., the National Bakery J$6.5 billion expansion project, Wisynco Group Limited, largest-ever capital investment, estimated J$4.73 billion for its beverage machinery project and the recently completed Red Stripe J$2.2 billion expansion project. These large investments will significantly boost Jamaica’s manufacturing output and export penetration. However, like other industries, manufacturing is experiencing low productivity due to the low level of skills in the workforce. There is a very high demand for machine operators, assembly line workers, welders, electricians, and Computer Numerical Control (CNC) mechanics and engineers. It is also projected that there will be a significant increase in demand for a new set of skills very soon, given the influx of automation and advanced technologies with these large-scale investments.

The establishment of the Manufacturing Sector Skills Council represents a pivotal step towards cultivating a workforce that can drive innovation, efficiency, and excellence within the manufacturing industry. By fostering critical engagement and collaboration among key stakeholders, this initiative is poised to accelerate Jamaica’s economic growth and position it as a regional leader in manufacturing and related industries.

During their visit, representatives from JMEA, IDB, and HEART/ NSTA Trust also engaged in a comprehensive tour of the National Tool & Engineering Institute. The delegation examined existing training programmes and facilities while engaging in meaningful discussions regarding future developments and strategic partnerships.

The JMEA is committed to working with GOJ, IDB, HEART/ NSTA Trust and other relevant stakeholders to advance our local apprenticeship programme as a viable model to address sector skills development and drive the growth of the manufacturing and exporting industry.

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Contact:

For more information, please contact:
Shanique Gordon, Marketing, PR & Events Manager
Email:shanique@jmea.org | Phone:876-817-5638

JMEA & JERA PARTNERSHIP

The Jamaica Energy Resilience Alliance is Proud to Announce a New Official Alliance Member: the Jamaica Manufacturers and Exporters Association

The Jamaica Energy Resilience Alliance (JERA) is proud to announce that the Jamaica Manufacturers and Exporters Association (JMEA) has joined the alliance.

The Jamaica Manufacturers and Exporters Association is a leading industry association dedicated to providing vital support to exporters, manufacturers, service providers, micro, small and medium enterprises through advocacy, strategic partnerships, export services, research, capacity building, and access to finance.

As an Alliance member, JMEA is part of the largest solar demand aggregation campaigns in Jamaica and will leverage the Jamaica Energy Resilience Alliance’s resources in advancing sustainability business interests and promoting solar opportunities within the country’s manufacturing and export sectors for greater energy resilience.

In January 2021, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Jamaica Energy Resilience Alliance launched the Strengthening Energy Sector Resilience in Jamaica programme. The programme aims to strengthen Jamaica’s energy sector with the ability to rebound quickly from disasters by supporting the enabling environment for the adoption of distributed and resilient renewable energy technologies, specifically solar photovoltaics, and photovoltaics with battery storage.

Under USAID’s Strengthening Energy Sector Resilience programme, the Jamaica Energy Resilience Alliance is helping businesses seeking to reduce power costs, increase reliability of supply, and enhance their operations with no-cost assistance to inform solar technologies implementation and decision-making. Alliance members Wigton Windfarms, Xergy Energy, and WRB Energy have pledged up to US $50M dollars to support solar photovoltaics and photovoltaics with battery storage leasing in Jamaica.

“The Jamaica Manufacturers and Exporters Association views this alliance membership as critical in advancing our members’ conversion to solar in order to reduce their energy costs. This is also important from the standpoint of the country as our expenditure on imported fossil fuels exceeds the value of our total exports and makes us vulnerable as a small island nation” said John Mahfood, President of Jamaica Manufacturers and Exporters Association.

Collaboration between the Jamaica Manufacturers and Exporters Association and the Jamaica Energy Resilience Alliance has already led to dozens of the association’s members to register and participate in USAID’s Strengthening Energy Sector Resilience programme. To date, the Jamaica Energy Resilience Alliance has supported solar photovoltaics and photovoltaics with battery storage projects in Jamaica with a combined 741.5 kilowatts of solar capacity.

Furthermore, several more members are currently in different stages of preparation to implement solar technologies and are receiving free energy advisory services from the Jamaica Energy Resilience Alliance, including site assessment visits and introductions to qualified installers and financial institutions offering solar loans.
Businesses interested in reducing power costs, increasing reliability of supply, and enhancing operations with solar photovoltaics and photovoltaics with battery storage technology should contact Nicqui Graveney at nicqui@jmea.org or visit www.cadmusgroup.com/jamaicaenergy to become part of the Jamaica Energy Resilience Alliance programme.

About the Jamaica Energy Resilience Alliance
The Jamaica Energy Resilience Alliance (JERA) is a group of like-minded energy leaders from local and international private sectors, research, and academia with a shared vision to promote and support the solar energy sector in Jamaica.

Safety of Ackee Locally

JMEA & JAPA Advises on the Safety and Precautions of Buying and Consuming Ackee Locally

Kingston, Jamaica: The Jamaica Manufacturers and Exporters Association (JMEA) and the Jamaica AgroProcessors Association (JAPA) are aware of the current widespread concerns regarding the safety of ackees, Jamaica’s national fruit. Particularly, concerns revolve around the safety of the fruit, whether the current drought has affected the natural process by which the fruit becomes detoxified (and thus safe for consumption) and unsafe practices that are reportedly being employed in preparing and offering the fruit for sale in our local market. The JMEA and JAPA, both entities that are advised by the best expertise available on ackees, can assure the public that ackees, handled and produced for consumption locally in accordance with well-known and well-established traditional practices and norms, are safe.

Extensive work done by researchers at the University of the West Indies (UWI) and Technological Solutions Limited (TSL), supported by historical data gathered by the Bureau of Standards Jamaica (BSJ), has characterized the stages of ripening of the fruit, its safety and (in 2005/2006) the impact of drought and weather-related conditions on the toxin content of the fruit. This work (which is published internationally) and the scientists that produced it, assure us that nothing has substantially changed over the years. Specifically, TSL also advises that current data confirm that ackees which were selected when fully opened, continue to be substantially free of hypoglycin, the toxin associated with ackee poisoning.

Over the last 25 years, members of the JMEA and JAPA, supported by this local expertise have invested heavily in the study of, and development of systems to ensure the safety of ackees processed for local consumption and for exports. This has resulted in canned ackees being amongst the safest of commercially processed products, whether offered for sale locally or exported. In fact, there has never been a credible incident of ackee poisoning reported for canned ackees in the more than 50 years that canned ackees have been offered for sale in Jamaica and internationally.

Besides representing a significant component of our processed food exports (valued at US$24.5 million in 2021), ackees are an important part of Jamaican culture. The JMEA and JAPA, therefore wish Jamaicans to be assured that their national fruit, whether produced for local sale or for export, continues to be safe. We urge consumers, however, to ensure that they know and trust the source from which they are getting the fruit and to use only fruit taken from fully ripened, wide open pods to prepare their favourite ackee meal.

For more information, please contact:
Shantole Thompson
Marketing & PR Manager, JMEA
shantole@jmea.org; 876-582-9742
OR
Bobique Brown
Marketing & PR Officer, JMEA
bobique@jmea.org; 876-232-9701

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