Jamaica Expo 2012 kicks off!

BY JULIAN RICHARDSON Assistant Business Co-ordinator richardsonj@jamaicaobserver.com

Friday, April 27, 2012

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SOME of the island’s most innovative products, several utilising the latest technologies, were on display at yesterday’s opening of Expo Jamaica 2012 at the National Arena in Kingston.


An adjustable bed, with which one can control sleep postions from an iPhone or iPad, was on display for Therapedic Caribbean — a manufacturer of high-end and mass market beds — near the entrance of the display area featuring over 200 company booths with 2,000 products across 15 industries.


Therapedic Marketing Director Aswad Morgan told Caribbean Business Report that the new adjustable bed, dubbed the "Jubilee Anniversary Edition" to mark Jamaica’s 50th Independence, was making its market debut at the event.


"We introduced an adjustable bed here in Jamaica in 2004 and each year we have been coming out with a more modern and newer version," said Morgan.


"This, our 50th jubilee year, we decided to come out with the most state-of-the-art bed ever produced in Jamaica without question," he noted.


One of the main features of the bed is that it is fully adjustable at the back and in the leg, Morgan told Caribbean Business Report. What’s more is that it has a silent wake feature where instead of waking up to a loud sound of an alarm, one is alerted through a vibration of the bed, he added.


While the bed comes with its own remote, users are able to synchronise it with their iPhone or iPad smart devices after downloading an app from the Apple store.


"You talk about customer satisfaction gone through the roof?!" boasted Morgan.


"We are very excited about the product and we are going to sell a lot of them," added the Therapedic marketing director who said the company is looking at distributing a lot of the beds to local hotels.


Just across the aisle from the Therapedic booth, competitor Boss Furniture officially launched its own innovations in the form of antibacterial mattresses for jails, school dormitories and hospitals. "This fabric does not allow bacteria to live in it," noted Boss Furniture’s CEO Omar Azan. "Nobody else in Jamaica does this," he noted. Boss Furniture also launched a bed to commemorate Jamaica’s anniversary, with part of the proceeds going towards the rebuilding of the Glenhope Place of Safety, a section of which was rased by a fire last year.


"It has an expensive look, but it is actually a very inexpensive, low-priced bed," said Azan of the product, which he said sells for some $18,000 at wholesalers.


"The more beds we sell is the more money we can give towards the home," he added.


The biennial exposition aims to bring Jamaican and international buyers together with local producers to create trade relationships. The event has attracted 380 buyers from 24 countries, with most of the overseas buyers coming from the US, UK and Canada, and the rest from other parts of Europe as well as Africa. Buyers from the Caribbean, including a group from Trinidad and Tobago, were also expected.


This year's theme for the four-day show is "Brand Jamaica to the World". But John O Minott, head of coffee producer Jamaica Standard Products, said his company is particularly excited about the opportunity to make linkages with buyers from Jamaica.


"Right here in Jamaica we have a market that we have not fully tapped into," noted Minott.


"We have to recogise that we have what I would call indirect exports. We have a lot of tourists visiting this country and a lot of our businesses locally are chanelled through the tourism sector," he continued. "It is a big segment that we tend to overlook, and our company has been pushing more to getting into hotels, and even into restaurants."


Another company looking to Expo Jamaica as a platform to make a major thrust into the local market is St Thomas-based Canco Limited. Canco is displaying the popular canned food products it produces under the Linstead Market Jamaica brand, but is also aggressively pushing a soil conditioner compost under the Ecowells label.


According to company brand manager GeAnne Dwyer, the company has dedicated an acre and a half of land in St Thomas to converting its organic waste — from materials including ackee skins and calaloo cuttings — into compost.


"We used to dump a large amount of waste in St Thomas, which contributed to our carbon footprint. So a few years ago we decided to take another step in our environmental responsibility," Dwyer said.


She noted that the product has been met by excellent reviews from farmers and said that the company wanted to raise brand awareness at Expo Jamaica.

  

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