Local agro-industries will benefit from IICA training on product packaging

Efforts by Caribbean agro-industries to maximize access to intra- and extra-regional markets falling short of expectations largely due to non-compliance with extra-regional consumer packaging and labeling requirements, The Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA) is taking steps to address this gap by providing training in countries in the region whose export markets may be seriously threatened by lower than standard packaging standards. normal.

While local agribusinesses have consistently scored high for the quality of their products, many told Stabroek Business that they missed out on what appeared to be potentially lucrative external markets due to the low rating. of their packaging and labeling quality.

Aware of the need for the region to improve its game in these areas if manufacturers’ production is to meet international requirements for entering extra-regional markets, IICA launched on August 27 what a regional report called of a “capacity building initiative entitled“ Food Packaging and Labeling Regulations for CARICOM Markets ”. “

Guyana is designated as one of six countries in the region targeted to benefit from this capacity building exercise.

A Trinidad Express report from October 4 says the project, through IICA’s International Trade and Regional Integration Program, will see countries benefit from specific national capacity building activities designed to address their weaknesses. particular. The report says the project will also include support for product testing, another measure that is essential if regional products are to improve access to external markets.

During this time, participants will also benefit from instructions on e-commerce facilitation and networking as well as an exercise to connect producers and buyers via a virtual business forum to be held from November 10 to 12. This year.

IICA’s agricultural health and food safety specialist, Dr Lisa Harrynanan, reportedly noted that the issue of packaging and labeling remains a major obstacle for small regional producers as many ‘between them do not know the requirements of the different markets they target for export. She said the information that will be shared under the IICA initiative will better position export-ready producers to access external markets.

IICA’s initiative will hopefully be well received by the local agribusiness sector, which for several years has been crippled by a shortage of high quality packaging and labeling materials. Local manufacturers in the micro and small business sectors have also been found to be deficient in their knowledge of packaging and labeling rules, as these apply to various target countries for exports. Poor quality packaging and labeling has also been attributed to the high cost of the material required which often exceeds the budgetary means of the many micro and small businesses involved in the local agribusiness sector.

Small local businesses that were interviewed by Stabroek Business frequently listed packaging and labeling issues resulting mainly from the high costs associated with these activities as one of the main obstacles to accessing the international market and to local market segments. Considering what in recent years has been the significant improvement in the level of local supermarkets and the appearance here of some foreign franchises, local producers are now under even greater pressure to raise packaging standards. and labeling.

In August, the state-run Guyana Marketing Corporation (GMC) launched what it called the country’s first agribusiness incubator, which pledged to “provide advice on processing requirements and packaging in accordance with globally accepted standards ”.

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