Cayman imports $1b in food from Jamaica
The Cayman Islands imports $1b worth of food annually from Jamaica.

THE Cayman Islands sources large amounts of food supplies from Jamaica, with the Statistical Institute of Jamaica (Statin) indicating that food imports by the island nation from Jamaica are valued at over $1 billion annually.

Recently, Jamaica and the Cayman Islands inked a fresh arrangement under which a broadened list of agricultural produce can be imported from Jamaica. New products on the list are plantain, breadfruit and soursop, as well as blanched and frozen ackees.

The Cayman Islands is a British overseas territory with its GDP far in excess of Jamaica’s. It is home to an offshore banking sector with assets in excess of US$500 billion.

With a GDP per capita of US$91,392, the Cayman Islands has the highest standard of living in the Caribbean. Comparitively, GDP per capita in Jamaica is US$4530.

The Cayman Islands are located 438km or 272 miles to Jamaica’s north-west and is less than half an hour away by direct airlift.

The proximity of the Cayman Islands to Jamaica has led to many economic linkages, including food imports.

Cayman Minister of Agriculture Jay Ebanks engaged in bilateral talks during his visit which were aimed at improving food security for the island.

The new arrangement with Jamaica, he said, will allow the Cayman Islands direct access to fresh produce in the context of global food pressures.

In a report on the outcome of his visit, Ebanks said, Jamaica offers a good alternative as it is closer than other countries from which the island usually imports.

Preliminary data from Statin indicate that the Cayman Islands imported food valued at $1.44 billion in 2020. In 2019 the total value of food imported from Jamaica was $1.24 billion. Data for 2021 are not available.

The range of food items sourced in Jamaica include not only fresh produce, but also meat of every kind. On Statin’s list of 170 products for 2020 were frozen cuts of meat, meat of fowl, chicken leg quarters, canned chicken sausages, chicken paste, corned beef and boneless beef trimmings.

The Cayman Islands also imports sugar, milk and skimmed and whole milk powder, other milk and cream, condensed milk, infant formula, cheeses, mackerel, cod, other fish, lobster, shrimp, prawns, brown rice, other rice, flour (wheat), cornmeal, cereal products, wheat products, sugar, waffles, wafers and biscuits, cake mix, bammies, legumes, carrots, hot pepper, pumpkin and much more.

Fruit imported include bananas, oranges, lemons, watermelons, grapes and more. Added are coffee, spices, nuts, pastry and other baked products.

Ebanks indicated the aim in the recent agreement was to boost the island’s food and nutrition security. The Cayman Islands and Jamaica have a longstanding trading relationship spanning two decades, facilitating the export of agricultural commodities. From 1863 to 1958 the Cayman Islands was administered as part of the colony of Jamaica. It went its separate way to become a British overseas territory at the time when Jamaica joined the short-lived West Indies Federation in 1958.

BY AVIA USTANNY-COLLINDER Senior business reporter collindera@jamaicaobserver.com

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