President of the Jamaica Manufacturers and Exporters’ Association (JMEA), Richard Pandohie, says there is a sufficient supply of critical food items to sustain the country through the threat of coronavirus (COVID-19).
“We have a very diverse set of manufacturers in Jamaica. In the food supply chain, we have done a fairly good job. Most manufacturers are saying that they have two to three months of products on the ground, including raw material.
On the food supply side, I don’t think we have any problems. We have several manufacturers in the country, so whether it is flour, oil, agricultural produce, milk, juice or tissue, we have the supply,” he said.
“At times, suppliers may not have all the stock at the same time, but they will get replenished the following week.”— Pandohie
Mr Pandohie urged consumers to be considerate of other shoppers and to resist the instinct to stockpile basic items.
“What is going to happen is that people are going to react in a hoarding instinct. There will be a huge demand in the short term. At times, suppliers may not have all the stock at the same time, but they will get replenished the following week. People can rest assured there is no need to panic,” he said.
Mr Pandohie pointed out that members of the distributive trade had been making preparations for the impact of COVID-19 months before the virus entered the country, with members being advised to increase their raw material supply inventory and their finished goods in anticipation of the interruption of supplies from China, the world’s largest supplier of raw material and equipment.
“Since the onset of COVID-19 started in China, it has been having an impact, and we started making our preparations. We have been actively planning and preparing for this by bringing in raw material and inventory,” he said.
Initially, delays in the shipment of raw material and equipment forced local manufacturers to reroute these through North America and Europe.
However, with China resuming operations, the JMEA head anticipates that Jamaica’s reserve of food items is sufficient to sustain the country until this supply chain is operating at full capacity.
“China, the largest manufacturer in the world and a source of much raw material, is beginning to come back up. People will come back to work and orders are being taken and shipments will start going out again. We will get materials coming in and we will start manufacturing, even if it is at a lower level because of the availability of people, but the idea is not to disrupt the supply chain to consumers and customers,” he explained.
“In the crisis, we believe there is a huge opportunity for us to step up to the plate and to show Jamaica that local manufacturing can perform.”— Pandohie
In the meantime, Mr. Pandohie said collaboration between the Government and private-sector companies in the distributive trade will further strengthen the country’s resilience as they work together to confront the public health emergency.
“We are meeting to give a proposal to the Government on how we can work with the Government to ensure that we have as much stability and calm as possible and to take the panic out of the situation, and to see what mitigation activities we can put in place to prepare for some of the fallout,” he added.
“In the crisis, we believe there is a huge opportunity for us to step up to the plate and to show Jamaica that local manufacturing can perform and can take the place of many of the things we import, and we can deliver quality products in our time of need,” the JMEA President said.