General Manager of the Guyana Marketing Corporation’s (GMC) Guyana Shop, Kevin Macklingham has told Stabroek Business that local agro-processors need to raise their game even further in terms of the quality of their packaging and labelling if their products are to be more competitive on the local and overseas markets.
In an interview with this newspaper on Tuesday, Macklingham said that while, in recent years, the quality of packaging and processing in the agro-processing sector had improved “significantly,” both local and foreign consumers were demanding ever higher standards and that, these days, packaging and labelling “probably counts for as much as product quality” with customers.
Macklingham told Stabroek Business that high labelling and packaging costs frequently make the difference between success and failure among enterprises in the agro-processing sector. He explained that what was in evidence increasingly these days is a significant disparity between production costs and packaging and labelling costs in the sector. “There are instances that we have seen where the packaging and labelling costs can actually account for as much as 60% of the selling price of the item.
The Guyana Shop which serves primarily as a ‘show window’ for locally produced condiments, spices, snack foods and other food and household products currently serves more than seventy local agro processors and major manufacturers. Sterling Products, Edward B. Beharry, Banks DIH Ltd. and Demerara Distillers Ltd. are among the high-profile companies whose products are displayed on the shelves of The Guyana Shop. The facility also provides product-promotion services for smaller enterprises. The product range available at the Guyana Shop includes jams and jellies, cooking sauces, processed fish, coconut products, snack foods, processed fruit, coconut oil, wines and beverages, peas and beans and powdered spices.
Through the Guyana Marketing Corporation’s agro development business services, local agro processors have access to product enhancement services aimed at adding value to their products. Macklingham told Stabroek Business that among the key criteria for product acceptance at the Guyana Shop is the requirement that agro processors satisfy the safety and health criteria including the food safety standards set by the Government Analyst Food & Drugs Department. The services afforded local manufacturers and agro processors are extended to all regions of the country with the exception of Regions Seven and Nine.
Macklingham explained that the services being offered by the Guyana Shop include product promotion at various national events including the GuyExpo, Berbice Expo and Essequibo Expo events.
But despite the support afforded local producers by the Guyana Shop, Macklingham told Stabroek Business that prohibitive packaging and labelling costs and what in many instances was sub-standard labelling continued to inhibit market opportunities both at home and abroad. He explained that while local producers had, in recent years, developed an enhanced awareness of the importance of product presentation, local standards, in many instances continued to lag behind the expectations of the international market.