Exporters to become trendy
Manufacturers are to get help packaging their products for export, while graphic designers, Business Support Organisations and printers will be trained in designing labels and packages.
The Jamaica Manufacturers' Association (JMA) has received funding for a project that will address the poor packaging of local manufacturers in order to improve export competitiveness.
Through workshop and assessment, members will be informed on trends - such as the move to brighter colours -and industry specifications for labelling, as well as regulations to comply with international standards.
"We will send out calls for companies that need help with labelling and packaging," said Kamesha Turner, research and project manager at the JMA.
Staff from ten businesses, including some from the recently launched Micro and Small Enterprise (MSE) Membership Facility at the JMA, will be among those trained.
Exposure will be given to new trends in the international market for packaging materials by consultants who will implement the objectives of the project "Improving Packaging for Export Competitiveness."
Brands need to be unique, said Turner, pointing to Heinz as an example of a company that has successfully conquered the public's subconscious.
Label designs, printing and packaging technology and innovation will also be addressed.
Jamaica's export potential has been limited by poor packaging," said Imega Breese-McNab, executive director of the JMA. "The development of stakeholders along the printing and packaging value chain is critical to improve export competitiveness."
Ultimately, JMA wants to develop its members and put local manufacturers in a position to effectively complete locally and internationally, Turner said.
"Customers immediately gravitate to products that are attractive and easily recognised," she said. Adding that elements such as colour, design and font size are important, Turner stressed that correct information is also needed for product labelling. That, and more will be taught through the project.
The money, to fund the programme was received from the Caribbean Export Development Agency Direct Assistance Grant Scheme. The agency is financed by the European Union.
Local products have to go against international products when they are exported. Those items must be of a high quality, Turner said. She added that the JMA's goal is to help Jamaican manufacturing companies maximise their opportunities in international markets.
Likewise, there are products imported and sold locally. "Our products must also be able to catch the eye of the consumer, just as an item produced another country," she said.
Breese-McNab added that there is huge potential for investors along the Printing and Packaging Industry value chain as in 2010 Jamaica imported US$74.4 million (J$6.7 billion) of plastic packaging and in 2009, US$8.8 million of printed paper labels was imported mainly from Trinidad and Tobago, Mexico, Costa Rico and the United States.
Larger companies use overseas graphics artists to design labels and print, then import them as local designers, packaging manufacturers and printers have had limited exposure to labelling trends, the range and trend of finished packaging and new packaging and printing technology.
Therefore the label designs and packaging materials used locally are to a large extent not competitive enough or in some instances don't meet the standards of the international consumer or marketplace
"Jamaica is known to produce premium quality, niche products however earning potential is often limited by poor, non-trendy packaging and incorrect or unattractive labels", JMA said.
From a policy directive, both the National Industrial Policy 1996-2010 and the National Export Strategy (NES) launched in 2009 indicated that local manufacturers have low packaging standards, which hurts export competitiveness and that improving it would directly help export revenue.
The project began last week and will be implemented over eight months.