|Minister of Industry, Small Business and Rural Development, Denis Kellman (right) tries a sample of instant cou cou, as Managing Director of Coral Isle Food Products Ltd., John Phillips, looks on. (C. Pitt/BGIS)|
One local enterprise has been praised for keeping Barbados’ national dish alive and making inroads into the local and overseas markets.
This was the sentiment shared by Minister of Industry, Small Business and Rural Development, Denis Kellman, as he and representatives of the Ministry and the Barbados Investment and Development Corporation (BIDC), toured the Newton, Christ Church-based Coral Isle Food Products Ltd., which produces a pre-packaged cou cou mix.??
Minister Kellman lauded the persistence of Managing Director, John Phillips, whose efforts to bring the product to market have been years in the making. He congratulated Mr. Phillips for "not giving up on his idea," adding that "the Ministry of Industry, Small Business and Rural Development is interested in helping entrepreneurs… Once the product has the capacity for fitting into the import substitution [market], we are there," he said, pointing out that the product had viable export potential.
Mr. Kellman acknowledged the contribution of the BIDC to the endeavour and saluted its dedication to the development of products which could be taken to markets abroad.??
Speaking about his agency’s involvement with the project, Acting CEO of the BIDC, Michael Bynoe, explained that Coral Isle’s current location was one which was "quite applicable to the standards we require to access the overseas market.?? This building is HAACP [Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points] compliant… This product is requested at the moment in the United Kingdom… It has also been exposed and displayed in the U.S.A. and Canada… We hope that Mr. Philips will soon be able to fully equip himself and start taking advantage of the opportunities and get this product in the international market," he asserted.
The Managing Director expressed his gratitude to the BIDC for promoting the product and revealed that he was gaining ground in the local market, while looking forward to exploring the possibilities beyond these shores.????
He said: ??"…We have two forms of the product – the liquid form, which is ready to use; and this is being used by the School Meals Service… We were on their menu all of last year and we will be on the menu again next term.?? With the methods we have here, we can easily make 500 litres at a time and you can have two to 3,000 school children eating cou cou on the same day…
"[With] the dry product, everything is in there except salt.?? It can be adjusted to suit your taste by adding various herbs and spices and you can even regulate the amount of water…" he noted.
Mr. Philips declared that the creation of the product was in an effort to preserve part of Barbados’ heritage.?? For this to be achieved, he had to change the mode of preparation in an effort to create a method which was repeatable and consistent.???? "…I felt, a while ago, that [cou cou] was in danger of disappearing… In order to get it used by the average person, I had to bring it into the 21st century…," he said.