September 2021 \ Diaspora News \ COVER STORY—BUSINESS COLUMN
India has significant upside potential in Caribbean F&B sector

By Abhishek Poddar

India’s total exports to Caribbean nations stood at US$ 561.32 million in 2020, out of which F&B products have 14.96% share. Therefore, India has only 9.3% share in the Caribbean food market. Top products that India supplies to these countries are shrimps and prawns, cigarettes, whiskies, tobacco, and sweet biscuits. Furthermore, largest buyers for products among the Caribbean region are Dominican Republic, Haiti, Trinidad and Tobago, Belize and Jamaica. India is among the top 15 exporters for food and beverages products. There are products where India has competitiveness and which are significantly imported by the Caribbean nations from other sources. These include food preparations, milled rice, maize, tobacco, cheese, oilcakes and other residues, food preparations for infant use, cigarettes, bread and pastries, and preparations for animal feeding.

Indian raw material suppliers can also tap the food processing industry of Caribbean nations. In markets such as Trinidad and Tobago and Barbados, there is significant processing of wheat flour, soy products, dairy products, animal feeds and rice. Around 20% of the raw material for these products in the region is sourced from internal suppliers while the remaining 80% is imported from the rest of the world. Furthermore, as the world’s leading rum producers, the region is home to several major rum manufacturing units. The Caribbean region is vividly diverse, with a Gross National Income (GNI) per capita that varies from US$800 to over US$30,000 according to the World Bank. Most countries are heavily reliant on tourism, while some have a high share of commodity exports. According to the World Bank, the Latin America and Caribbean (LAC) region has carried out around 398 reforms during the last 15 years, thus increasing ease in doing business. Jamaica, a Caribbean nation, is 3rd in LAC region in terms of enacting reforms to improve business in the region. However, the issue of high import tariffs in Caribbean nations like the Dominican Republic and Trinidad and Tobago needs to be addressed.

Tags: Caribbean