Most people would agree that spice is an essential ingredient when cooking.
In the Caribbean, our seemingly innate ability to select the right spices, and add them in just the right amount, has added depth and flavour to our cuisine and is what separates it from others.
Vincentian entrepreneur Sharon Little has always enjoyed spending time in the kitchen and her passion for spicing up recipes eventually led to the launch of her small business in 1997 – ‘Pringa’s Natural Flavours’.
Sharon started off selling her version of green seasoning at a local shop where she was the manager. After it proved popular, she approached other small stores and supermarkets, and soon her seasoning was on shelves all over St Vincent and the Grenadines.
But Sharon did not stop there. She quickly expanded the Pringa’s brand to include hot sauce, ginger sauce, and guava jelly all made from herbs, spices, and tropical fruits grown by local farmers.
Now, she is working on plans to export to the US, Canada, and Europe, after receiving assistance from the Caribbean Export Development Agency and the European Union to attend business development workshops and international trade shows.
Sharon states: “Coming on board with Caribbean Export has provided me with a lot of important information to grow the business. Thinking of where we were before, and where we are now, since working with Caribbean Export, it’s a big leap. We’ve been exposed to other markets, given lots of knowledge, and it has helped us to get to know our product and the best ways to sell it.”
In September 2022, Sharon’s daughter LaFleur, who she employs along with one other person, joined a small delegation of producers under the Caribbean Export umbrella at the Speciality and Fine Food Fair in London. Pringa’s provided a range of samples at the expo and the reception was promising.
At the time, LaFleur told Caribbean Export: “Persons from the UK are really venturing out of their comfort zone and trying more spicy foods. It was a pleasure to serve them Pringa’s line of sauces and condiments. I know they enjoyed it because most came back for seconds. They couldn’t believe they were getting all these beautiful flavours from sauces and condiments.”
After a successful trip to the UK, Pringa’s was also on display at the Caribbean Export booth at the world’s biggest tradeshow ‘SIAL Paris 2022’ where several potential distributors and buyers expressed an interest in the company’s products.
Sharon believes her biggest challenge right now in terms of exporting is the cost of automating production.
She states: “I’m not happy just supplying St Vincent so my aim is to go further afield. But right now, we are still processing everything by hand, doing all the peeling and cleaning, so that is hard on us. But if I did get an export market, I would be able to buy some machinery and employ more people.”
Over the past few months, Pringa’s has been approached by an ecommerce company based in Vietnam called Buy2sell, which is keen to offer its guava jelly on its platform to customers in Asia. The two companies are still negotiating.
Sharon says: “We are hopeful that it will go somewhere but right now we are stuck on the quantity. They want 300 cases of guava jelly, but we would prefer to start with 50 cases every three months and go from there.”
In the meantime, Sharon plans to improve efficiency to boost production and work on breaking into another Caribbean market. She also wants to find a bigger space to operate from that will also provide additional room for storage.
Sharon is determined to make Pringa’s into a Caribbean success story and she is already well on her way.