Wal-Mart, Publix among those interested in local produce

Some 30-40 buyers enquired about Guyanese produce after several samples were displayed at the 10th IFE America Food and Beverage Trade Show and Conference hosted in Miami last month.

Agriculture Robert Persaud, General Manager (GM) at the New Guyana Marketing Corporation (GMC) Nizam Hassan and the five members of the Guyana Trade and Investment Support (GTIS) team, headed by Chief-of-Party Carl Larkins, attended the Guyana Agro-Business Investment Oppor-tunities Seminar at the Miramar Town Hall in Miramar, Florida, hosted by the GTIS and the International Business Council of Florida.

At a press conference hosted on Tuesday at the GMC’s Robb Street office, GTIS Marketing Director Sara Engleka told Stabroek News that the show was selected as part of an ongoing effort to create market linkages and because of the favourable transport linkages for both air and sea.

She said it was the first time that Guyana had sent a delegation to the event and though there were numerous inquiries no one item emerged more popular.

Engleka noted that she expects that 10% or 3-4 of these inquiries will turn into actual and ongoing relationships. She also said she believes that there was “a pretty positive response” and that once the new buyers come on stream the organization will develop working and long-term relationships with them. The Guyana booth showcased eddoes, butternut squash, seedless limes and bull-nose hot-pepper. A slide show featuring produce grown in Guyana was also hosted.

Most of the inquiries were from Miami-based businesses/companies but large buyers like Publix, a grocery chain and Wal-Mart, the supermarket chain and were among those that made inquiries. Members of the Guyana Diaspora also made inquiries. Hassan told this newspaper that the response was “great” as “the results will show.” The GM said freight forwarding both internally (in the US) and externally (from the US) was explored and on November 16 the President of the Florida based IBC is expected in Guyana.

The IBC is a membership-based public not-for-profit association of Florida business leaders and organizations engaged in or in support of international trade in Florida. It also markets Florida as a centre for global commerce.

In September, GTIS Business Development Services Manager Vijay Rambrich had said that 100,000 pounds of butternut squash would be exported by December. However, Engleka said the GTIS will ship the produce in January but it is not clear if the same amount will be exported.

Attendance at the IFE was made possible through support from GTIS, a joint US and government project. The IFE is based in Miami and focuses on food and beverages from Latin and North America. There are some 1200 food and beverage importers and distributors in Miami.

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