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Jamaica: a promising market for agricultural exports

June 1, 2018
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Why this is important to Wisconsin businesses: Wisconsin exports of agricultural products are a good fit for this market, since Jamaica imports products that cannot be grown domestically because of the climate.

The Jamaican agriculture market presents business opportunities for Wisconsin suppliers, particularly since the island’s tropical climate and diversified topography incentivize the production of crops that are largely different than those grown in the cooler climates of the U.S. Jamaica has a long history of conducting business with the U.S. due to geographic proximity and a reputation for high-quality products and superior service.

The total value of food imports to Jamaica was about $850 million in 2016.  Jamaica is the second-largest market for U.S. agricultural exports in the greater Caribbean, after the Dominican Republic. U.S. exports of agricultural products totaled $372 million in 2016, a decrease of 2 percent. U.S. exports of consumer-ready food products in 2016 increased 3 percent to $174 million, nearly 47 percent of the agricultural total.

Jamaica’s leading food and beverage import categories include:

  • Grains and soybeans
  • Fruits and vegetables
  • Fruit and vegetable juices
  • Meats (beef and veal)
  • Cheese and dairy products
  • Prepared snacks
  • Alcohol

Jamaica also imported $170 million worth of processed foods in 2016, an increase of 16 percent from 2015. That represents nearly 46 percent of the agricultural total. Top U.S. exports of processed food products in 2016 included food preparations, fats and oils, non-alcoholic beverages, processed egg products, snack foods, processed/prepared dairy products, and condiments and sauces.

According to the Jamaica Trade and Invest agency (, Jamaica’s agriculture policy seeks to diversify the production of agricultural goods to build self-sufficiency, promote exports, and service the growing tourism industry, but Jamaica is currently challenged with the inability to produce significant quantities of consistent high-quality agricultural goods. There are opportunities in agricultural innovation and developing the supply chain to counter these challenges. The agency specifically facilitates investment in key crops, including rice, yams, turmeric, Irish potatoes, sheep, cocoa, coffee, pineapples, onions, ginger and honey as strategic products.

It is recommended that Wisconsin exporters who would like to enter the Jamaican market perform in-depth market research to identify potential niches and develop an effective marketing plan. As the next phase of the plan, a partner search would be conducted for local importers/distributors who serve as the principal intermediary between exporters and local buyers.

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