REPORT #152 Dec 1999

Produced by the Belize Development Trust

30 years ago, I remember taking some Cashew Wine I bought off a road stand around Maskall, Belize, to Texas. The millionaires of real estate and the oil patch who were my tourist customers on Caye Caulker back then, went 'ape' over the wine. It was more of a display item than a drinking item, a party conversational piece bragging about this rare wine. I included the item in one of my Belize Novels, (forget which one?). Cashews at the time were very expensive in the USA.

Exporting alcoholic beverages to the USA is fraught with dangers, complications and also a very good niche market. Places like California, New York, Michigan, Texas and Florida are great targets for the export of exclusive gourmet niche wines at high prices. I am told by a contributor to the Belize Culture List, that you have to license the importation of wine in each individual state. That the license fees run about $100 to $1000. I seem to vaguely remember some other paper work red tape complications from another friend who tried it as a hobby many years ago. ( He's dead now!) Reynaldo with his BIM should be able to find out the details and problems with this.

There are no exotic tropical fruit wines in the USA that I know of. This would be a gourmet item at high retail prices. You simply cannot supply 50 million bottles of Guava wine, or Cashew wine to the USA, or Europe. But you could conceivably export 10,000 bottles from Belize to these places. Because they are rare, they should bring very high prices, anywhere from $20 USA to $30 USA per bottle. There are some wines I know sell for a $100 per bottle. There is no reason one couldnt cater to the exclusiveness of wealth and price status, in selling such gourmet rare wines.

So Cashew wine and other fruits are good niche market export products for Belize. Because of the complications of paper work, I would think a Belizean exporter might be better off shipping to a USA distributor who is already licensed and knows the ropes. The one thing I would do though, is keep the price value up on such exotic rare gourmet wines, with a very fancy label and a fancy price. I certainly would not ship a case of such Belizean wine for less than $12 USA per bottle and maybe more. The distributor and retailer have to add on their markups. But price is no object in this niche market because you are not selling volume, you are satisfying an exclusive demand based on wealth and status.

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