JAMAICAN products may be on the verge of exploding on to the Dominican Republic maket.
A recent Jampro-led trade mission to the Spanish-speaking Caribbean country returned positive first results for the 15 local companies that went there.
At least one -- Lasco Manufacturing -- has already secured a trial order to supply a large supermarket chain in time for the Christmas season.
Another, West Indies Gypsum Company, which had started discussions prior to the trip, is a step closer to forming a collaborative relationship with a large distributor of hardware and construction materials, according to Brian Walks, managing director of West Indies Gypsum.
Moreover, the makers of Cetamol, Federated Pharmaceutical, say interest has been shown in their over-the-counter drugs, while the local company is looking at the possibilities of distributing some of the prescription drugs produced in the DR into the Jamaican market.
Lascelles Chin, who did not disclose the details of the test run in coming months -- except to say that it consists of a product that comes in four different sizes -- was confident that the deal will result in something more substantial.
"These supermarkets don't have time for fooling around," said the chairman of the Lasco Group of companies. "We are confident that they will follow through."
It's still early days, but it seems clear that DR supermarkets might serve as a good destination for Jamaican products
"There are some products, not the ethnic products but the more common, universally known products will be accepted there," said Michelle Chong, chief executive officer of Honey Bun.
The bakery figures that its products are more suited for small supermarkets.
"What we did find eventually when we went to some of the smaller supermarkets is that their baking industry is not as advanced as ours," said Chong. "We also met with persons who would connect us with distributors."
Jampro's trade mission was supported by the Caribbean Export Development Agency (CEDA), in collaboration with the Jamaica Manufacturers' Association (JMA).
"What we are interested in is going deep into new markets. We are not interested in going broad brush into a series of markets, we want to build a partnership with the DR," said Diane Edwards, president ofJAMPRO.
One of the ultimate objectives is to balance the country's trade deficit. In 2012, Jamaica imported US$48 million worth of goods from the DR and exported only US$540,000 there, according to the head of the promotions agency.
It's an important target market for a number of reasons, including its size and population of 10 million as well as its proximity to Jamaica, said Edwards.
Moreover, the DR is a gateway to Haiti and is much closer to the Hispanic Caribbean and Spain, and can act as a bridge between Jamaica and those countries, she told guests at a press conference that revealed the outcomes of the trip.
Wynlee Trading, Falcon Marketing, Crimson Dawn Manufacturing, Paramount Trading, Sun Island Jamaica, Honeykist Apiaries, Jamaica Fibreglass Products, Edgechem Jamaica, Bio-Tech R and G Institute, GK Foods and Services and Isratech Jamaica also sent representatives on the trade mission to the DR.