Salt, fat, acid and heat are four popular elements of good cooking. For the Caribbean region, these just might expand to five elements: salt, fat, acid, heat and sweet. From a history of sugar plantations to harvests of juicy tropical fruits, sweet might just be the 5th element in the treasure trove of flavours that influence Caribbean cuisine. From sweet mango pepper sauces to desicated coconuts, fruit cordials and frozen fruit pulps. Sweet features prominently alongside other key elements of cooking in Caribbean condiments, sauces, marinades, flours and other processed food products.
The Caribbean region, known for its rich cultural heritage, evolved through a convergence of cultural influences, including Indigenous, African, European, Indian and Asian, across various islands. These diverse influences, paired with each island’s own evolving culture and available plants and other ingredients, has birthed a captivating fusion of flavours that is different across every island.
At the renowned Food Industry trade fair, Agroalimentaria 2023, top exporting Caribbean brands and products will be showcased. These include products from Jamaica in the North to Guyana, Suriname, and Trinidad and Tobago in the South, to Westward Belize, and the Eastern islands of the Lesser Antilles, St. Kitts and Nevis, and St. Vincent and the Grenadines. A taste of the Caribbean will be showcased, offering a myriad of processed and pantry food products to delight palettes.
One trend report indicates that “consumers are keen to try exotic street food flavours as a form of escapism”, that “table sauces, seasonings and oils will serve as “Unguilty Pleasures” and that vegan and holistic health options will be in focus. Businesses across the Caribbean are poised to respond to trends and meet consumer desires. International buyers can discover some of these top exporting businesses at Agroalimentaria 2023.
Synonymous with Jamaican cooking is jerk. C Benjamin Group Ltd (formerly Benlar Foods LTD) offers up this culinary delight and other sauces and pastes that are 100% vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free. Consumers can enjoy Jamaican flavours like curry jerk paste and hot jerk paste along with other saucy delights like honey-ginger pepper sauce, sweet mango pepper sauce and scotch bonnet pepper sauce.
Serving up an array of sauces is Belizean company, Marie Sharp’s. A family-owned business that makes their signature product with the freshest vegetables from their farm and the finest ingredients, Marie Sharp’s lives up to their slogan, “Proud Products of Belize”. Distributed worldwide, Marie Sharp’s sauces boast farm-to-bottle freshness with a sharp focus on flavour. Their Habanero pepper-sauce boasts a unique carrot-based blend that achieves the perfect balance between flavour and heat. Available in a variety of blends, including sweet and smoked varieties, Marie Sharp’s sauces promise to bring the heat and deliver mild to comatose heat levels.
Heat, sweet and zingy goodness are among the vibrant flavour offerings of VincyFresh, from St. Vincent and the Grenadines. Zingy garlic and ginger marinade, sweet ginger hot sauce, vibrant herb and pepper marinade and hot Caribbean pepper sauce feature among the lineup of tantalising offerings. Locally owned and managed, VincyFresh products are crafted from the finest ingredients grown by local farmers. Vincy Fresh offers a range of marinades, sauces and frozen fruit pulp.
Blending sweet with heat in gourmet hot pepper sauces is Llewellyn´s. Crafted in Rawlins Village, “the breadbasket of Nevis,” these culinary creations embrace a medley of locally sourced treasures from the village and from sibling island, St. Kitts. These gourmet sauces promise character with authentic island flavours like thyme, mango, ginger and guava to complement the hot, spicy sweetness of red and yellow scotch bonnet peppers. A product of British-born chef, Llewellyn O¨Neill Clarke, Llewellyn´s pepper sauces capture the essence of Nevis. In addition, Llewellyn’s also offers cooking oil, vinegar and salad dressing, a compliment to any pantry.
Wheat Flour, a traditional pantry staple, has been replaced or complimented in some pantries by naturally gluten-free and vegan root vegetable flours like cassava. Consumers in search of vegan, natural and healthy lifestyles, including those with gluten sensitivities, may find a range of modern pantry staples to suit their lifestyle from Marthiland, out of Suriname. Mathiland’s Bam Bino line of products includes the naturally gluten-free cassava flour and other products to complement a healthy lifestyle like rice flour, banana porridge, wheat semolina and icing sugar.
Nut flours, like coconut flour, also feature prominently in gluten-free and healthy lifestyle options. Only Coconuts, a brand of Precision Global Inc.http://www.onlycoconuts.com, brings the versatility of coconuts to market, with a range of products from this naturally gluten-free and high-fibre superfood. Their product line-up features naturally gluten-free coconut flour, virgin coconut oil, refined coconut oil, desiccated coconuts, and coconut chips. Packed with healthy fats and antioxidants, coconuts can support health and wellness when regularly consumed. By carefully hand-picking every coconut and monitoring all stages of the process, this brand offers only the best, only the purest, Only Coconuts.
RHS Marketing, an award-winning company from Trinidad and Tobago takes pride in manufacturing products that have their roots in the Caribbean and its cultural diversity. They are one of the leading manufacturers and exporters of premium quality sauces, seasonings, spices, condiments, jellies, fruit cordials and essences, along with drinks from one of the hottest new wellness trend ingredients: seamoss. Their offerings include products for both sweet and savoury preparations: ranging from essences like nutmeg, mixed, clove, banana and kola to condiments like mango kuchela, tamarind chutney, chalta amchar to West Indian pepper sauces, hot sauces and even a Vintage West Indian pepper sauce, among other products.
The fusion of culture and tradition expressed in Caribbean processed food products unlocks a world of flavor and naturally healthy ingredients in an array of products to compliment and enhance modern food experiences.
 Norsat, Samin. “Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat.” SALT FAT ACID HEAT, www.saltfatacidheat.com/. Accessed 22 May 2023.
 “The Future of Table Sauces, Oils and Seasonings – 2023 : Consumer Market Research Report : Mintel.Com.” Mintel, 10 May 2023, store.mintel.com/report/the-future-of-table-sauces-oils-and-seasonings-market-report?