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A new study on the local castor oil industry is showing significant potential for Jamaican Black Castor Oil in the United States.
The Complete Caribbean study indicates that the US market for the product stands at about US$28 million.
“The potential sales are much higher than I thought they would ever be,” said Private Sector Development Specialist with Complete Caribbean, Frankie Whitwell, who presented the research findings at a seminar hosted by Jamaica Promotions Corporation (JAMPRO) recently.
“We have to increase production among a raft of other measures,” he added.
Director of the Jamaica Castor Industry Association (JCIA), Shirley Lindo, noted that the findings indicate “the high value of the local castor bean”.
She pointed to the need for policies to adequately and clearly define the Jamaican Black Castor Oil and implementation of geographic indicators (GI) to ensure its protection.
GI, according to the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), is a sign applied to products that have a specific geographical origin and possess qualities or a reputation that are due to that origin.
In order to function as a GI, a sign must identify a product as originating in a given place.
“We have taken too long to claim this oil for ourselves. It needs protection. I am a producer and I have had a situation where (foreign) companies have undermined my bid because of pricing because the consumers, who do not know what the product is, will go with price,” Lindo said.
Vice President of Sales and Promotions at JAMPRO, Claude Duncan, in his presentation, noted that the agency is driving the growth of the local castor oil industry in order to command a greater share of the global market estimated at close to US$4 billion.
He said that JAMPRO, in 2016, commissioned a comprehensive industry study, which indicated, among other things, that Jamaican Black Castor Oil is perfectly positioned to combat rural unemployment, poverty and promote bottom-up, inclusive economic growth.
“We then facilitated the formulation of JCIA and to this day we continue to be an advisor. We also house the Secretariat within JAMPRO,” he said.
Duncan said that JAMPRO, which is responsible for promoting business opportunities in export and investment to the local and international private sector, also took persons to market.
“We took persons to two major Bonner Brothers (International Beauty) Shows, which is one of the larger cosmetic shows. We went to the show in Atlanta, which was attended by over 30,000 people. We carried them there so that they could understand the market, create connections and introduce their products,” he noted.
Duncan hailed the latest research findings as “another important step that will advance the growth of the castor industry as well as the cosmetic industry”.
Complete Caribbean provides technical assistance for projects that enhance productivity and competitiveness of Caribbean businesses.
It involves partnership among the Inter-American Development Bank, United Kingdom Department for International Development, Caribbean Development Bank, and the Government of Canada.