Michael's Caribbean Imports has added its own taste of Jamaican fare to the United Kingdom's food industry.
Led by Jamaican-born founder Nicole Bowen, the distributor recently launched Mickle's, a line of “budget-friendly products”, that offers Caribbean expats and Britons of Caribbean heritage “a taste” of her island.
“You can find 'Jamaica-lite' brands or luxury Jamaican and Caribbean fare with prices to match. It's much harder to find a real taste of Jamaica in the UK at prices that don't break the bank, which is where Mickle's comes in,” Bowen told Jamaica Observer in an e-mailed response.
“The Caribbean food sector is highly competitive, but we saw a space for authentic products, packaged and produced from the original source. Mickle's products are designed to be used in the home, everyday like in the Caribbean,” she continued.
In addition to the difficulty in finding imported Caribbean brands, Bowen said told Caribbean Business Report, imported products usually expensive, regardless of where they are from. However, the company is relying on word of mouth and its own marketing initiatives to boost the presence of the Mickle's brand in the UK market, before establishing a footprint in mainland Europe.
At present, the Mickle's products include canned ackees, callaloo, fruit punch, and a range sauces — hot pepper, crushed pepper, jerk, mango jerk, and pimento. The company also distributes bammies (cassava bread) and the Mickle's vanilla extract with cinnamon.
Michael's Caribbean Imports also distributes products such as Island Spice seasonings and sauces, Betapac curry powder, and Tops herbal teas to several retail outlets in the Greater London area.
According to a release from the company, the Mickle's brand pays homage to Bowen's mother, who sold produce from a stall in one of Kingston's markets, and serves “to keep her mother's legacy alive.
“My mum had a big influence on me growing up. She encouraged me with my pepper sauce-making venture while I was in secondary school and taught me a lot,” Bowen shared.
“From Mum I developed a passion for budget-friendly products that are packed full of flavour,” she added.