Caribbean culinary potential untapped, says business consultant

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Fruit and vegetable markets in the Caribbean promote healthy lifestyles.
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A veteran Caribbean business consultant is advocating for greater promotion of the region’s culinary potential.

Dr Basil Springer, a change-engine consultant and director of Marketplace Excellence, believes that while Caribbean destinations are active in the marketing of their culinary offerings, there is still much-untapped potential in cultivating the region’s food and beverage experience.

Dr Springer called for a collaborative effort between farmers, nutritionists, chefs, bartenders, herbalists, culture bearers, business shepherds, and tourism marketers to fully explore the plethora of opportunities available to promote the region as a preferred global centre for culinary tourism.

He believes that there is a vast global market waiting to be tapped by Caribbean food and beverage brands and that with the right guidance, smaller companies can navigate the regulatory and distribution hoops that bigger brands have jumped through to register success in the global marketplace. “We cannot look at this as an opportunity for a select few,” said Dr Springer, who added that if approached strategically and supported with the appropriate funding this could have a “tsunami effect” in the marketplace.

Dr Springer also sees an opportunity for the region to become a leader in promoting healthy lifestyles, affirming that the Caribbean has an abundance of fresh, healthy organic products available at a fraction of the cost of the international marketplace. “We should be featuring the views of nutritionists and food experts as well as our sports stars and legends across the media landscape on the importance of adopting healthy lifestyles,” he added.

Encouraging import substitution initiatives can help to strengthen local industries, promote innovation, and contribute to a more diversified and resilient economy, Dr Springer argued, while admitting he remained perplexed why many destinations in the region continue to service high food import bills while bypassing local food security initiatives.

“For example, while christophene and apple have different tastes and textures, it is possible to prepare a christophene ‘apple’ pie by cleverly using spices and a little creativity. This is an innovative way to utilize local Caribbean produce in a familiar dessert. A golden apple substitute for ‘English apples’ is another option,” he opined.

To promote the region’s culinary expertise, Dr Springer suggests that tourism departments market, promote and share Caribbean cookbooks with journalists, travel agents, and other sellers of travel to encourage visitors to incorporate the region’s recipes in their lifestyles when they return home. “It keeps the Caribbean top of mind and encourages new and repeat visitors to head to the region at regular intervals,” he said.

The business consultant believes that by tapping into the region’s culinary potential, the Caribbean can become an even more attractive destination while contributing to the growth and development of the region’s economy and its small businesses.

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