Foodstuffs Great for Tourism

An Expert's View about Food , Beverages and Tobacco in the Bahamas

Last updated: 19 Aug 2011

Opportunities for U.S. suppliers, who already possess a 95 percent share of the Bahamian market for foodstuffs, are expected to expand.

THIS REPORT CONTAINS ASSESSMENTS OF COMMODITY AND TRADE ISSUES MADE BY USDA STAFF AND NOT NECESSARILY STATEMENTS OF OFFICIAL U.S. GOVERNMENT POLICY Voluntary - Public Date: 7/27/2011 GAIN Report Number: CB1111 Bahamas - The Post: Miami ATO Tourism Development Spells Good News for U.S. Suppliers Report Categories: HRI Food Service Sector Market Development Reports Promotion Opportunities Approved By: Katherine Nishiura Prepared By: Omar Gonzalez Report Highlights: The Bahamas is enjoying significant investment in large new tourism projects, which are already underway. These new tourism developments promise to greatly increase visitor inflows beyond the 5 million tourists that flock to these islands annually. Consequently, opportunities for U.S. suppliers, who already possess a 95 percent share of the Bahamian market for foodstuffs, are expected to expand. What remains to be seen is whether these new investments will help improve tourism inflows to the entire Caribbean or if The Bahamas will simply obtain a larger slice of the region?s tourism pie. General Information: The Bahamian Market for U.S. Agricultural Products Although the estimated 700 islands and cays that make up The Bahamas cover a rather large geographic area, the land mass of the islands is a mere 3,865 sq. miles (10,010 sq. km), which is slightly smaller that Connecticut. The population of the islands is also quite small. A total of 313,312 people (July 2011 estimate) inhabit the islands, with close to 80 percent of the population concentrated in the island of New Providence, which is home to the capital city of Nassau. Despite its small size, The Bahamas is an excellent market for U.S. farm products, particularly for consumer-oriented goods. In fact, The Bahamas is one of the largest markets in the entire Caribbean for U.S. consumer-oriented products, second only to the Dominican Republic, which has a population of nearly 10 million. The $185 million in consumer-oriented goods that the United States exported to The Bahamas in 2010 ranked 33rd out of 193 countries. So why is this small island chain such a magnet for U.S. foods? Several factors converge to make The Bahamas a prime export destination for U.S. food suppliers. ? Proximity to the United States: main markets such as Freeport and Nassau are within 100 and 200 miles, respectively, from the southeast coast of Florida, which is a major export hub for U.S. foods. ? The Bahamas has very limited domestic agricultural production. Agriculture and fisheries together account for about two percent of GDP. Thus, The Bahamas depends on food imports, which represent about 80 percent of its food consumption. ? The Bahamas is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the Caribbean, attracting 1.37 million stop-over visitors in 2010. These stop-over visitors are the driving force behind demand in the food service sector. ? U.S. tourists represent 80 percent of all stop-over visitors, ensuring a strong demand for U.S. products. ? The Bahamas is the number one cruise ship destination in the entire Caribbean. Although cruise ship passengers generally consume most of their meals on-board, the roughly 4 million passengers disembarking on Bahamian shores annually also help boost demand for food and beverages on the islands to some degree. ? The Bahamas has one of the highest per capita incomes in the Western hemisphere -GDP per capita (ppp) was $28,700 in 2010. ? The Bahamas regulatory environment is quite receptive to U.S. products. U.S. trade data indicates that in 2010 the United States exported $263.5 in agricultural, fish and forestry products to The Bahamas, of which 70 percent were consumer-oriented foods. U.S. Agricultural Exports to The Bahamas (In Thousands of Dollars) Jan-May Jan-May 2009 2010 2010 2011 % Product Value Value Value Value Change Bulk Total 12,669 10,857 5,084 4,286 -16 Intermediate Total 19,755 17,905 7,296 8,119 11 Consumer Oriented Total 183,887 185,228 * 77,605 80,237 3 Red Meats, FR/CH/FR 24,948 30,953 * 12,137 12,717 5 Poultry Meat 25,986 26,690 * 11,096 10,213 -8 Other Consumer Oriented 29,756 22,378 9,771 9,658 -1 Dairy Products 21,244 20,898 9,032 10,686 18 Snack Foods 17,170 17,650 * 7,943 8,019 1 Fruit & Vegetable Juices 12,186 14,727 * 5,269 5,868 11 Processed Fruit & Vegetables 10,427 9,549 4,192 4,560 9 Wine and Beer 7,472 7,819 3,457 3,878 12 Red Meats, Prep/Pres 7,087 * 6,820 2,778 2,910 5 Breakfast Cereals 5,025 6,043 * 2,580 2,687 4 Fresh Fruit 5,793 5,853 2,931 2,535 -14 Fresh Vegetables 4,772 4,930 2,001 2,252 13 Nursery Products 5,599 4,411 1,770 2,303 30 Pet Foods 3,763 * 3,352 1,360 961 -29 Eggs & Products 2,077 2,676 * 1,090 759 -30 Tree Nuts 584 480 197 232 18 Fish Products 7,652 * 7,190 3,292 3,259 -1 Forest Products 45,925 42,332 16,064 16,720 4 Other Value-Added Wood Prod 27,788 22,117 7,850 8,883 13 Softwood and Treated Lumber 8,902 7,804 3,548 2,672 -25 Panel Products (Incl Plywood) 5,231 6,410 2,590 2,645 2 Logs and Chips 2,092 4,563 1,628 1,540 -5 Hardwood Lumber 1,913 1,438 447 980 119 TOTAL AG, FISH & FORESTRY 269,887 * 263,512 109,340 112,620 3 * Denotes highest export level since at least 1970. Source: Department of Commerce, U.S. Census Bureau, Foreign Trade Statistics. Baha Mar The Baha Mar Project, owned and developed by an Armenian firm, is being billed as the largest resort development currently under construction in North America and the largest single-phase resort development in the history of the Caribbean. The $2.6 billion, 1,000 acre development will be located 5 miles west of Nassau along a half mile stretch known as Cable Beach. In February 2011, ground was broken on the project and the entire development is expected to be completed in late 2014. When finished, Baha Mar will include: ? Six resort hotels; ? the Caribbean?s largest Casino (100,000 sq. ft.); ? the largest convention center in The Bahamas (200,000 sq. ft.); ? a Jack Nicklaus signature golf course; ? a 20 acre waterpark; ? at least a dozen restaurants: ? a 50,000 sq. ft. retail village; and ? three spas, including the Caribbean?s largest. The project is being financed by the Export Import Bank of China and construction will be carried out by a large Chinese firm, which is also investing $150 million in the project. The Government of the Bahamas has granted temporary work permits for up to 8,150 Chinese laborers for the project (no more that 5,000 at one time). An additional 4,000 construction jobs will also go to Bahamians. Two existing hotel towers on the property will be used to house project management staff and a temporary employee housing facility will accommodate the Chinese workers. When Baha Mar opens its doors, it will add 2,250 hotel rooms to The Bahamas? 15,000 room inventory. Between 6,000 and 7,000 new permanent jobs are expected to be added, of which 98 percent would be filled by Bahamians. Baha Mar owners also project that during the first 12 months of operation the development will attract an additional 430,000 stop-over visitors (an increase of roughly 30 percent from current levels), inject $1 billion into the local economy, and raise the average annual income of the Bahamian family from $29,000 to $33,500. Owners of the neighboring Atlantis complex, located on Paradise Island near Nassau, have reportedly put a Phase IV expansion project on hold until the Baha Mar project is completed. Other Projects In March 2011, a new U.S. Departures Terminal was unveiled at Nassau?s Lynden Pindling International Airport (LPIA). In 2012, a new U.S./International Arrivals Terminal will debut at LPIA as well. In sum, LPIA will benefit from over $400 million in improvements, which are scheduled to conclude by 2013, greatly facilitating tourist traffic to and from The Bahamas. In Freeport, on the island of Grand Bahama, a Hong Kong-based conglomerate reportedly has invested millions of dollars in a new deep-water container port, cruise ship dock, industrial park, and hotel properties. Promising to revitalize Freeport as the Bahamas? primary industrial hub, the investment has already raised Bahamas? ship registry beyond the 50 million tonnage mark, the largest in the world. The Freeport container port is now the 72nd busiest container terminal in the world. Outlook for U.S. Suppliers This large and rapid expansion of The Bahamas? tourism infrastructure will no doubt have a positive impact on the Bahamian economy and it should also increase tourist inflows to the islands. Greater economic activity generated by the construction boom of these projects and the subsequent increase in jobs means higher disposable income for the local population as well. More tourists visiting the islands will also have a positive ripple effect throughout the economy. Consequently, the prospects for increased U.S. agricultural exports to the Bahamas have seldom been better. Over the next several years, opportunities for U.S. suppliers should be plentiful in practically all product categories and in both the food service and retail sectors. U.S. exporters interested in entering the Bahamian market should begin by contacting local importers (which also typically serve as wholesalers/distributors). Local importers have wide market access for imported products, have relatively large warehouse facilities which are computerized and mechanized, and possess their own fleets of trucks and vans for distribution. Most importers carry a full line of fresh, frozen, and dry products, while a few of the importers specialize in providing fresh produce, seafood, and alcoholic beverages. More information on the Bahamian food service and retail sectors can be found in the following reports: The Bahamas HRI Food Service Sector Report & The Bahamas Retail Sector Report. Information on how to obtain FAS foreign buyer lists is available at Not to be overlooked are the opportunities for suppliers of lumber and panel products for construction purposes as well as the opportunities for suppliers of trees, ornamental plants, sod and similar products for purposes of landscaping and golf course construction. U.S. suppliers of these types of products may contact the CBATO (T: 305-536- 5300; E-mail: atocaribbeanbasin@fas.usd.agov) for further information. What remains to be seen is whether these new investments will help improve tourism inflows to the entire Caribbean or if The Bahamas will simply obtain a larger slice of the region?s tourism pie.
Posted: 17 August 2011, last updated 19 August 2011

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