Chocolate Industry

Trinidad and Tobago must seize untapped markets

ABIL Group CEO / Vice President Nicholas Lok Jack, Trade and Industry Minister Paula Gopee-Scoon, TTMA President Tricia Coosal and TTMA CEO Dr Mahindra Ramdeen stand in front of a billboard announcing that the Catch chocolate bar will be sold in Cyprus. –

Last Friday, the Ministry of Commerce and Industry made a promising announcement regarding the manufacturing sector.

He said the local Catch chocolate bar, made by Associated Brands Industries Ltd, will be sold in Cyprus from September.

Catch has long been a household name here and is already sold in many parts of the world. For example, the bar is distributed in Ireland and Jamaica. You can also find it on supermarket shelves in parts of North America, Central America, South America, and the Caribbean.

But the penetration of yet another market by a Trinidadian brand well established at this sensitive period of our economic development is a crucial moment for the industry.

“Cyprus is an attractive market for us as we continue to enter regions in Europe and the Middle East,” said Nicholas Lok Jack, CEO / Vice President of Associated Brands Group.

“As a manufacturer, we believed that we could increase our market share internationally, and through persistence and research, we looked at different markets and were able to virtually meet with potential distributors to get new ones. business for the company. “

TT Manufacturers Association (TTMA) President Tricia Coosal welcomed the news, saying it was a new venture that could motivate local manufacturers looking for opportunities to diversify.

“We know it has been a difficult time,” Ms. Coosal said, “but this new venture gives us hope and encouragement for the possibilities that lie ahead.”

These possibilities are truly endless. Local manufacturing has often focused on local and regional markets. But it also has everything to gain from seeing even bigger by going further. Having established entities like Associated Brands sets the tone for small and medium businesses.

However, as Ms. Coosal suggests, there are many challenges to these global ambitions, many of which are familiar with the Ministry of Trade and Industry.

The pandemic has highlighted the state’s inability to support businesses and their employees.

In addition to this, there are long-standing issues related to the efficiency of state processes, ease of doing business, fair trade and access to finance, skilled labor and expertise.

It’s great to see Catch innovate, but if other companies and brands are to follow in its footsteps, there has to be a cultural shift that reorients entrepreneurs towards holistic thinking, as well as a more robust and fertile business environment at home, facilitated by the state.

It is also important to consider the potential role of members of the Caribbean diaspora living abroad.

These people represent a huge untapped market for many of our renowned TT products, not just our chocolates.

The thrill of seeing a familiar, uniquely Trinidadian product on the shelf of a foreign grocery store is not just something of sentimental value. It also highlights the potential purchasing power of the Caribbean population as a whole, whether at home or abroad. This is what we need to exploit more.