In the aftermath of its 48th staging of the Expo Jamaica 2023 trade show, the Jamaica Manufacturers and Exporters Association (JMEA) is aiming to grow the current number of buyers to 1,000 for the event’s next iteration expected to take place in 2025.
The organisers of the biennial event which welcomed more than 15,000 consumers, 800 buyers spread across some 30 different countries and 230 local exhibitors now considering plans to deliver on the objective.
“For this staging, we had just eight months of planning but what we have realised is that if we are to have more buyers, we will need to start our recruitment earlier; maybe a year in advance if we are to engage more overseas embassies and chamber of commerce entities in order to secure more buyers. By the next staging we are hoping to have a larger complement of buyers — up to 1,000, and that is going to be a key area of focus for us leading up to the next expo,” said JMEA President John Mahfood in an interview with the Jamaica Observer this week.
Mahfood said that while the participating list of countries have been growing over the years, there are still a number of areas on which they want to double down. Some of these he said included neighbouring territories situated closer in the region as well as those as far away as Africa.
“There are those Central American countries such as Panama, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Honduras, Dominican Republic, Cuba and others which are located in our immediate area from which I think we can attract more buyers. In the case of Africa, though more difficult because of distance, some of its nations including Kenya, Nigeria, with which we share historical commonalities, are among others from which we want to see greater engagement,” Mahfood added.
Citing an imbalance of trade in current exports to countries such as the US, UK and Canada, he further stressed the need for local suppliers to forge greater connections with large supermarket and retail chains in these countries as they push more goods and services.
“The expo presents a good opportunity to showcase our local products and in terms of business, it also allows for a lot of networking — the results from which we are hoping to benefit as a result of increased exports and investments.
This year’s 48th staging of the Jamaica Expo, which returned to in-person format since the novel coronavirus pandemic outbreak, was last held in 2018 with a much smaller virtual component executed in 2021.
The 2018 staging of the event attracted over 220 exhibitors, 570 buyers, and thousands of consumers.
According to executive director of the JMEA Kamesha Blake, the recent staging of Expo Jamaica 2023, which she dubbed a “tremendous success” by virtue of the level of participation and feedback from local companies, proved to be a win-win for all stakeholders.
“For our micro and small exhibitors, it brought significant returns for them financially and in helping them to push brand awareness. From a JMEA perspective, we were also able to achieve a number of our objectives, in that we had a target of 600 buyers, which was very ambitious given that we started with planning late, but we were able to meet and surpass this along with other targets.
“Having 30 countries was also a great representation which speaks to the growing popularity of brand Jamaica and the fact that a number of them further out such as Ghana, India, Oman and Yugoslavia would have such keen interest in our local products,” Blake told the Caribbean Business Report, while citing the expo’s overall support, turnout and public-private engagement as one for the record.
Witnessing the debut of a number of new companies this year, Blake said the next staging will only get bigger and better.
According to the management of the Derrimon Group, which was one of those first-time exhibitor at the trade show, the company through its Woodcats International and Caribbean Flavours & Fragrances subsidiaries across it five booths on display at the expo, said it was able to showcase a wide array of products to potential buyers while building increased brand awareness and attracting more customers. For others such as technology firm One on One Limited, the entity was able to establish training partnerships with other exhibitors offering them a free one month training for up to five of their employees through its flagship Learning Management System (LMS).
Blake in outlining that while the expo may have now concluded, said that the JMEA remains active in providing support for members of the sector. She referenced upcoming cohorts of its Export Max and Project Amazon programmes and other areas of technical support among the other areas of opportunity through which producers can also grow their exports.
“Partnering with the Jamaica Promotions Corporation, there are a number of trade missions on which we will be embarking. There are [imminent] plans for trips to Miami and Atlanta this month and Toronto, Washington and New York later in June,” she said.
Source The Jamaica Observer