By Allan Brooks
KINGSTON, Jamaica (JIS) -- Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller said that Jamaica must increasingly tap into the lucrative nutraceutical industry, estimated to be worth US$86 billion.
The prime minister, in a message delivered by Health Minister Dr Fenton Ferguson, at the official launch of some seven local nutraceutical products on February 23 in Kingston, said that Jamaica has been sitting on a virtual gold mine of locally grown medicinal plants while the world has been developing a lucrative international market in nutraceuticals.
She said studies show that of the 160 established medicinal plants in the world, Jamaica is home to more than 80, and these, if properly harnessed, could boost earnings and job creation.
“I am told that the nutraceutical industry in the United States of America is worth about $86 billion and the figure is slightly higher in Europe, (while) in Japan, nutraceuticals represent approximately a quarter of total annual food sales … 47 percent of the Japanese population consume nutraceuticals,” the prime minister pointed out.
She welcomed the launch of the new products developed by Bio-tech Research and Development Institute, noting that the company has “created value from intrinsically natural products, grown right here in our region, into products for use both locally and abroad.”
The research, production and marketing of the products, Simpson Miller stated, serves to “demonstrate that we have the business acumen that is required to lead our nation out of its current economic challenges, by creating home grown industries that can ultimately compete with the world, using our own research and development expertise and of course, employing our own people.”
She noted further that the development of new products from indigenous resources is an indication of the progress that Jamaicans have made in acknowledging “things Jamaican”.
“It is an opportunity to chart a new course. This value-added industry presents expanded opportunities for earnings and boosting job creation through our manufacturing and agricultural sectors,” the prime minister stated.
Nutraceutical is generally defined as “a food or food product that reportedly provides health and medical benefits, including the prevention and treatment of disease”.
The research, development and marketing of these products has been a core focus of Bio-Tech, whose executive chairman, Dr Henry Lowe, is a Jamaican scientist and entrepreneur, known for his pioneering work in cancer research. He has been made a member of the prestigious American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) based on the quality of scientific research, particularly in the area of prostate cancer.
According to Lowe, the Institute’s nutraceutical product development process has been built around solid scientific data and its formulations have been manufactured according to local and international standards, including the US Food and Drug Administration approved standards.