PRESS RELEASE – The town of Soufriere which is well known as a tourism landmark synonymous with luxury hotels and home to the Caribbean’s only drive-through volcano and a UNESCO World Heritage site, The Pitons, is now home to the first made in Saint Lucia All Natural Granola-based cereal produced by six women seeking to stimulate economic activity in the local community of Mocha, Fond St. Jacques.
In October 2010 after St. Lucia was ravaged by hurricane Tomas, these six women of Fond St Jacques, with the help of a Peace Corps volunteer Lisa Kuk and the Fond St Jacques Development committee, came together and formed Rain Forest Foods.
The six women are: Lydia Cazaubon (president), Magdalena George (vice president), Shernell Joseph (secretary), Mary Steva, Roseabelle Joseph, and Michaela Phillip.
Rain Forest Foods is a micro agro-processing business enterprise which produces granola cereal using high quality all natural local products like coconut, sweet potato, breadfruit and spices with whole grain oats. More recently they have also developed what is thought to be the Caribbean’s first all-natural Gluten-free flour, to be launched later this year.
Rain Forest Foods products are available at all major supermarkets including Super J, Mega J, Glace, Tj’s, GL Foods, Allain’s and Southwell and are on the breakfast menu of many award winning hotels and resorts such as Ladera, Le Sport, Rendezvous and Windjammer Landings.
In 2012 the company approached Ferrands Food Products Ltd. with the possibility of combining their cups of natural yogurt with its granola. Although packaging constraints prevented this from happening Ferrands very generously offered to assist Rain Forest Foods with delivery of its products.
Testament to the willingness of more established enterprises in Saint Lucia to collaborate with and assist start-ups, Ferrands Food Products Ltd. has been providing delivery to their customers at no cost to Rain Forest Foods since then, a very generous gesture that has been of great value to our success thus far. The Belle Vue Farmers’ Co-operative and the Soufriere Regional Development Foundation have also been collaborating very closely with and offering support to Rain Forest Foods.
Since the start of this project the company has also been able to enhance its operations through support by international development organisations like the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB), the Caribbean Local Economic Development Project (CARILED) headed by Mr. Felix Finisterre and the Ministry of Agriculture and HACCP certification is now pending which will enable export to the European market. According to the founders “when we started this project we thought it would just be a small community operation, but the scope has changed significantly. We have received sales and marketing training, business courses, assistance with the nutritional analysis of our products and now TEPA is working with us to develop a market in the United Kingdom.”
The company was awarded “Agri-Enterprise Organisation of the Year in 2012” by the Ministry of Agriculture. The company’s vision is to become a leading producer of All-Natural “Authentic Caribbean” and will be rebranded by 2015 under the name “Mocha Rainforest” to reflect on the village where the project began and using the tagline “A healthy Delight with Every Bite”, to differentiate the brand.
The company’s brand philosophy is “We are committed to making ‘healthy’ a ‘happy experience’, with the belief that there should never be a choice between great taste and health. We believe that food should be fun and flavourful yet still an elegant experience, an everyday luxury that all can enjoy, whether on the go or taking it slow. We are committed to innovation, finding new and exciting ways of using every-day Caribbean produce to create convenient, healthy and delightful products.”