wide spread panic and pandemonium serious concern across Jamaica over the expected effects of the United States’ Food Safety Modernisation Act (FSMA). Industry insiders have stated that the Act will cause a major blow to the operations of small farmers.
The most damaging requirement of the act for Jamaica appears to surround the traceability of goods. Uncle Sam doesn’t want to know simply about the manufacturer any more, the US is now concerned about the raw materials used in creating products.
Chief executive officer of GK Foods, Mike Ranglin, explained the practical effect of the problem:
“I will give you an example — pepper sauce. Because a lot of our raw materials that are generated within Jamaica are from small farmers, what you will find is that they would like us to get all our peppers from a few sources and be able to say it’s coming from there or there. In our case, we have hundreds of suppliers of peppers, so one of the things we have been looking at as a possible solution is if they will accept a region (group of suppliers in blocs) and that’s part of the discussion that’s going on because if this doesn’t happen a lot of our raw material sources are not going to be able to comply,”
GraceKennedy relies heavily on the small farmer (to their credit!), purchasing “approximately 45,000 pounds of produce per week from farmers.”
Cause for panic is not based in speculation. Based on statements last September from then Industry and Commerce Minister Dr Christopher Tufton, we know that “80 per cent of local food exporters were not certified to standards that would allow their goods to enter the US under the Food Safety Modernisation Act” up to that point.
Local food exports to the US were valued at US$118 million in 2010. In the meantime, the FDA is to conduct some 50 audits among Jamaican businesses that export to the US this year.