REPORT #24 1998

Produced by the Belize Development Trust
On the subject of teaching packaging, processing and marketing. The big problem with places like Belize is the transportation, freight costs of finished products and imported containers. Much of the importation for local import substitution could be done via a plastics injection mold machine. Terry knows about that stuff, particularly on the scale required for the small internal market of Belize. But you are still faced with the freight costs of shipping processed materials in fancy packaged containers to other countries. This can make it difficult to compete.

The exponentially growing Latin and Caribbean peoples markets in the USA however, now have many things, the average gringo American never heard of. There are no supermarkets in South Florida anymore for instance, that does not have Mango juices, Guava juices, coconut water, prepackaged cocoanut tarts, tortillas, papaya and all that tropical stuff. Most northerners that come for the winter, have never even heard of the fruits and things. In fact, I can probably get more choices and cheaper prices here, than in Belize.

But getting back to shipping these products to the USA and Canada for instance is a cost problem. It could be uneconomical. On the other hand, there is no future for Belizeans in being solely a source of raw commodity products.

What is needed, is for Belizeans to go one step further in the chain of export expansion. Rather than sell a 55 gal drum of dehydrated powdered Papaya for USA importers to make fruit juice drinks and package them in the USA. Belizean producers have to either establish there own packaging processing small scale family run size plant in the USA target markets, or go into a financial joint venture.

We could take the habenero pepper exports as an example. Though these bottles are so small, it may pay to process and package within Belize and ship the finished product, but if not, then rather than just sell the raw product to USA packagers, the Belizean producers need to financially control the whole chain in the process. From growing, habenero peppers, to the processing of the raw product in bulk in Belize, to shipping to USA destinations, then with locally owned Belizean financed operations, or financially controlled processed and packaged, mom and pop small warehouse type sales operations, right in the heavy Latin and Caribbean market target areas.

That way, rather than compete with other countries, you get a piece of the profits, all the way along the line, from growers, to sales of finished wholesale products.

Joint ventures, stock share investment schemes, extended family operations, however it is done, Belizeans have to be thinking the whole chain of these target product markets, all the way to the market shelves in the target sales areas. Only that way, is stability of market and prices going to be confirmed. Plus the growers will get, much like lobster fishermen, a piece of the profit pie, all the way down the line and this will really boost Belizean incomes.

To sum up, processing and packaging, marketing and sales of many Latin and Caribbean products, has to be owned and controlled by Belizeans from the fields in Belize to the market shelves in Los Angeles, Chicago, New York and Miami, for starters. This way, it is feasabile to ship raw commodities in bulk from Belize, to our own Belizean controlled packaging and processing operations in the USA and Canada. Most of this stuff is all small scale mom and pop size right now anyway. But it will grow, so market share now, is a critical time to get established. This will overcome the shipping freight costs of prepackaged products from Belize, yet retain profits and secure production quotas for Belizean market share.

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