REPORT #88 Aug 1999

Produced by the Belize Development Trust
One of the problems facing Belize for many, many decades has been the problem of shipping fruit, meat and other processed locally produced products to export markets. The Citrus Company in the Pomona Valley with a protected market, managed to process and can, fruit concentrate. But for the most part canning of tropical fruits, meat and other processed products was an impossible venture in Belize.

Belize is a supplier of small exotic niche market products which could be greatly expanded. The big problem in past decades was the processing, shipping and storage life of such products. Cans, which are favored in the G8 temperate zone industrialized countries, were expensive to ship to Belize, fill with a product and then re-ship to an export world market. Hardly profitable! Nor is any particular one crop large enough in any quantity to compete with many other similar producing countries on the world market. The can was the problem. Not enough production to warrant the importation of sheet steel, tinning mechanisms, the quality control switches in a very small plant machinery, to cover various products that were different in composition, like meat, or acidic concentrates. Set it all up and provide the quality control for small shipments of a varied assortment of niche products. Even producing assorted product cans locally from imported raw products was not worthwhile for a profitable venture.

But recently, a listserve member on the Belize Culture list brought up once again, an old topic. The advances and leadership provided by the Mexicans in the country north of us, in developing tropical product processing packaging! In this latest example, the writer went on to declaim the wonders of the Mexican "Pasta de Tomate" exported into Belize from Mexico. Now, we can grow tomatoes in Belize, in fact we can grow a whole lot of things. Where the problems have always been, was in the sales market itself and the processing/packing technology.

In this case, the Mexicans have substituted something new in technology for the tin-can of old time industrialized country export fame. It is a portable plastic style tin-can substitute. The outside is a heavy plastic, the inside an aluminum liner and you heat seal it. Presumably you buy it in rolls of material and just cut with a hot wire and seal. New technology replacing the old tin cans. Easily portable and manufactured in Belize.

Do you think we shall be shipping cooked meat chunks soon? All kinds of fruits in their juice or syrups? The list of things we could do on a small scale with this technology and niche markets in rich G8 countries is only limited to your imagination!

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