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Packaging ‘below global standard’

Marlon Madden

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The packaging and branding of many items produced by small manufacturers in Barbados and the region are not of an acceptable standard, especially to compete in the international market.
This is according to executive director of the Caribbean Export Development Agency Pamela Coke-Hamilton, who said the sooner local manufacturers understood that they were no longer just competing locally, the better it would be for everyone.
Her comments came at the opening of a two-day branding development and packaging workshop put on by the agency at the Hilton last Wednesday.
“One of the experiences we have had over the last two and a half years is that many of the trade shows that we have gone to, particularly when it comes to specialty foods, is that our packaging and labelling is frankly, just short of disastrous,” she said.
“We all know that branding and packaging are integral elements of product. However, in far too many instances not enough focus and emphasis is placed on the role they play in creating a successful enterprise.”
Coke-Hamilton told the participants that being very low-volume small manufacturers meant they needed to target higher income premium markets rather than competing with similar products offered by companies who are in economies of scale and had a lower cost of doing business.
She added: “If we are going to be talking about branding and positioning and placing our goods in the mainstream we also have to meet mainstream methodologies and standards. As a matter of fact, we have to [strive to] go above that.
“The world is moving forward and we have to move with it or we will get left behind. The days of preferential treatments are over. The sooner we understand and get that better it will be for all of us. So as a region we have to make a concerted effort to globalize in terms of standards and quality, while at the same time effectively branding and differentiating our products within similar sectors in order to be able to compete in the international marketplace.”
The workshop, which was facilitated by representatives of the British-based agencies Brand 42 and Rhodes and Lauritsen, saw 13 Caribbean islands taking part, some via the Internet.
Coke-Hamilton said the workshop should serve as a critical factor in helping to increase the competitiveness of CARIFORUM firms and encourage them to place more emphasis on branding and packaging.