The agro-processed food and natural ingredient sectors and the creative industries: keys to the Caribbean’s expansion in the European market

  • The value of Latin America and Caribbean (LAC) exports has shrunk by an estimated interannual rate of 1.6% in the first quarter of 2019, according to the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB)
  • The slowdown in LAC foreign sales has been partially counteracted by buoyant exports from the Caribbean
  • The Caribbean Export Development Agency is committed to promoting the agro-processed food and natural ingredient sectors and the creative industries in Europe in order to fuel expansion

Following two years of uninterrupted growth, goods exports from Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) have fallen in the first months of 2019, due to a decline in the volume of exports as well as a drop in the prices of raw materials.[1] The Caribbean countries – Dominican Republic, Haiti, Jamaica, Barbados and Suriname – together with Mexico, Ecuador and Costa Rica, are the only ones to record positive developments from January to March. However, the slowdown is marked and for this reason the countries in the region are making a concerted effort to foster their overseas commercial relationships in order to counter the drop in demand.

The Caribbean Export Development Agency (Caribbean Export) in cooperation with the European Union and the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit GmbH or GIZ in short is holding the fourth CARIFORUM-EU business forum from the 26 to the 28 September 2019 in Frankfurt, with the aim of improving commercial relationships between fifteen (15) Caribbean countries (CARIFORUM) and Europe, and increasing awareness of the private sector of business opportunities in the European market. Caribbean Export has identified the agro-processed food and natural ingredient industries and the cultural and creative industries as the sectors with the highest potential for growth in Europe.

Rum and seasonings, the Caribbean’s booming products

The Caribbean is world-famous as the home of rum. Global rum exports have increased by 26.86% over the last three years to reach a value of 1.45 million euros, and the countries in Latin America and the Caribbean are its major producers.

In Europe, consumption in this market is led by Germany and Spain. In Spain, rum consumption makes up 14% of the spirits market,[2] and in 2018 over 68% of global imports of rum came from the European market.

“Over the last decade, the production of rum has diversified to include a wide range of flavours, including apple, pineapple, mango and passionfruit,” comments Damie Sinanan, Manager for Competitiveness and Export Promotion at Caribbean Export. “With these changing trends and increased demand, we hope to see a more diverse range of Caribbean rum available in the European market.”

In addition, there is a noticeable increase in imports of spices and seasonings from developing countries to Europe (97% of the total import volume). This owes to the healthy lifestyle trends, interest in new flavours and sustainability. In fact, the global spice market is forecast to grow by 5.1% from 2017 to 2021, according to Eurostat.

Natural ingredients, Caribbean treasure

Europe’s love for natural plant-based ingredients combined with the region’s efforts to promote sustainability is fueling the demand for natural products, in different industries such as the cosmetics market.

The Caribbean has an abundance of naturally grown produce that can be used within the nutraceutical and natural cosmetics market. Coconuts for example can be used in a wide range of products including cosmetics and the FMI reports that the natural cosmetics market is projected to grow at 4.9% volume CAGR through 2027. In 2017, the European cosmetics market was valued at €77.6 billion, making Europe the largest cosmetics market in the world and natural cosmetics accounts for around 5% of total market. Among the European countries, Germany has the largest market for cosmetic products, valued at €13.6 billion, followed by France (€11.3 billion), the UK (€11.1 billion), Italy (€10.1billion) and Spain (€6.8 billion).

Another interesting segment isgluten-free foods & beverages. Approximately, Europe accounts for 25% of global gluten free product demand.

“European consumers are increasingly concerned by their health and diet, which has a positive impact on the demand for naturally sourced products found in the Caribbean including those believed to have health benefits,” explains Sinanan.  Wheat based flour contains varying levels of the protein gluten which has gained significant notoriety over the past decade due to increasing prevalence of gluten related health complications and a general switch by consumers to more health-conscious options across the board. Furthermore, the gluten free market is expected to grow to the value of €29 billion by 2025.

Potential for growth of creative industries

The increase in demand for Caribbean music is reflected in the huge popularity of festivals featuring this genre of music in European countries, such as Summerjam reggae festival in Germany, Ibiza Soca festival in Spain and Reggae Sun Ska Festival in France, along with many others.

“One of the aims of this forum is to promote Caribbean cinema and animation as well as music, and animation in particular as we know that it is one of the most widely-circulated categories in Europe,” indicates Damie Sinanan of Caribbean Export.

For more information about the 4th CARIFORUM-EU Business Forum visit: http://www.cedev.local/businessforum/

About Caribbean Export

Caribbean Export is a regional export development and trade and investment promotion organisation of the Forum of Caribbean States (CARIFORUM) currently executing the Regional Private Sector Programme (RPSDP) funded by the European Union  under the 11th European Development Fund (EDF)  Caribbean Export’s mission is to increase the competitiveness of Caribbean countries by providing quality export development and trade and investment promotion services through effective programme execution and strategic alliances.

Caribbean Export Development Agency

Contact: JoEllen Laryea, PR and Communications

Tel: +1(246) 436-0578, Fax: +1(246) 436-9999


Apple Tree Communications

Contact: Natalia Amores, PR and Communications

Tel: +1 (34) 91 319 05 15


[1] Inter-American Development Bank (IDB). “Estimations of commercial trends: Latin America and the Caribbean”

[2] Annual socio-economic report produced by the Spanish Spirits Federation (Federación Española de Bebidas Espirituosas, FEBE).