The Marketing and National Importing Board (MNIB) made a bold move in addressing healthy eating habits at the island’s lone tertiary institution, the T.A Marryshow Community College (TAMCC).
The company’s Sales Manager, Devon Rachae, told the media during a news conference last week Thursday that since the College re-opened in late August 2013, the entire deli operations run by MNIB on the campus has been revamped.
“We have removed all soft drinks and packaged imported snacks and replaced those with local snacks and local juices, and in fact students at TAMCC have responded positively”, he said.
“We are actually selling more juices than the amount of sales we would have had in soft drinks,” he added.
This trend, according to Rachae tells him that once the local products are available at affordable prices, the customers actually prefers to use more of these much healthier products.
THE NEW TODAY understands that a peeled orange can be purchased at TAMCC for $0.25.
According to Rachae, Grenada is blessed with an abundance of citrus at this time of year and the MNIB which is tasked with the responsibility of marketing the produce of farmers is committed to fulfilling this responsibility by delivering to customers.
He disclosed that several initiatives have been undertaken by MNIB to encourage the population to consume more local products.
One of them is to find ways to make the local products more affordable to customers by reducing the price of juices from $4.00 to a mere $2.50 per large glass.
In addition, he said that the state-run company has been juicing fruits and packaging the concentrates, which are, available to consumers at reasonable prices in two sizes – $20.00 per one gallon and $10.00 per half gallon.
The shelf life of these pure concentrate packaged juices is four months, which can be purchased, in frozen form.
Rachae is encouraging parents and institutions throughout the country to utilise the juices which can be made available to them at very reasonable prices rather than use the imported fruta and busta beverages from neighbouring Trinidad and Tobago which have very little to no nutritional value.
He said he expects the General Hospital and Hotels to also join the MNIB in promoting the utilisation of citrus.
Rachae stated that the MNIB model going forward will be to offer fair prices to farmers for their produce and then pass them on at good prices to customers.
In order to live up to farmers and consumers expectation, MNIB announced that it is in discussion with a local juicing plant to explore the possibility of storing citrus juices so that there will be less spoilage and more availability during the off-season.
MNIB’s Procurement Manager, Michael Robinson who also addressed the press conference reported that MNIB has been buying more and more from local farmers based on records during the period October to December 2013 when compared to the same period in 2012.
A total of 30,000 lbs of oranges were purchased in 2013 compared to 19,000 lbs in 2012, Grapefruit 15,000 lbs to 6,000 lbs, Mandarins 10,000 lbs compared to 7,800 lbs, Tangerines 1,600 lbs compared to 1,500, Limes 4,000 lbs to 2,000 lbs and Lemons 2,000 to 800 lbs.
According to Robinson, within the same three-month period last year, MNIB purchased 65,000 lbs of citrus compared to 36,000 lbs in 2012.
The company’s Field Officer with Special Responsibility for Carriacou and Petite Martinique, Colville Hercules, said that an abundance of citrus will continue for the next three months, an indication that following the loss of plants after the devastation of Hurricane Ivan in 2004, farmers have replanted and are now reaping the fruits of their labour.
For the first time in recent years, MNIB at the end of its financial year made a profit, which the State-owned entity believes, was due to increased in sales at all units and an increase in export sales.
The MNIB is convinced that this positive financial outcome was due mainly to operational efficiencies and more increased and aggressive purchases from farmers as well as an increase in the amount of farmers supplying the MNIB with their products.