Coffee Break Chat: St Lucian Entrepreneur Hubert Emmanuel, Paradise Foods
by Karen Rollins May 13, 2019
St Lucian entrepreneur Hubert Emmanuel started his business, Paradise Foods St Lucia, in 2017 after returning to the island from Taiwan.
Mr Emmanuel was Saint Lucia’s ambassador to the Republic of China and during his time overseas he learned about agro-processing and minimising food waste and decided to set up a local food production company.
Two years later, Paradise Foods has grown into a thriving business, offering a range of fresh produce cultivated by farmers in St Lucia.
Mr Emmanuel shared his story with Yello.
Please tell us about your business.
Paradise Foods St. Lucia Ltd. is a Saint Lucian owned and based company which aims to help promote local food production and usage in Saint Lucia.
Established in 2017, we are involved in the production of value-added foods, utilising the abundant supply of locally grown agriculture produce (food crops, fruits and vegetables) in Saint Lucia.
The agro value-added sector in Saint Lucia has remained largely undeveloped despite government’s efforts in the past to breathe life into this important sector. To overcome some of the challenges with this, local investors took the initiative to develop the sector and satisfy demand.
Our company strives to propel a greater agro-tourism linkage in Saint Lucia, which is not only a major revenue earner, but creates rural jobs and further diversifies the island’s tourism product.
We work with local farmers to source our products from cocoa trees to golden apples. We handle every stage of the process with the utmost care to provide the highest quality of products from farm to table.
We have also established a small factory in Fond Assua, Babonneau with staff who’ve been hired and trained in Saint Lucia. Together, we are working to promote local and fresh products.
What is the unique selling point for Paradise Foods? How is it different from similar businesses?
Our focus at Paradise Foods St. Lucia is on the production of fresh and healthy products using the best quality tropical produce grown in a natural environment.
We pride ourselves on using local and producing high quality products which are tailored to customer needs and requests. Additionally, our juices and pulps contain no additives, artificial preservatives or colours.
We are happily helping local farmers by obtaining as much produce from them as we can, rather than have some go to waste.
What was the toughest challenge you faced setting up the business? How did you overcome it?
I’d say the most challenging aspect of starting the business was raising starting capital and sourcing equipment. As it’s a new kind of business, we’re setting the standards and baseline for a company like this, so finding investors and the equipment was difficult.
We overcame this through a detailed business plan and presenting the idea of this business to investors as a unique opportunity and a one-of-a-kind business that serves a needed market.
What food products do you offer?
We offer a variety of products all freshly sourced and made locally in Saint Lucia including:
– A variety of premium chocolates (dark, dark and white, fruit covered, nut covered etc).
– Dried fruits (mango, pineapple and bananas).
– Fresh fruit pulp (1 litre or 5 litre) including citrus, passion fruit, mango, tamarind, golden apple, sorrel and other seasonal fruits.
– Fresh fruit juices (7oz 12oz and 16oz seal cups, we also sell by the litre.)
– Fresh fruit ice creams and sorbets.
We currently provide the following for catering service:
– Fresh fruit juices (by the cup, 7, 12, 16 ounces or by the litre) for meetings, workshops, events, conferences, parties etc.
– Frozen fruit pulp (by the litre) for making juices, cocktails, sauces etc.
– Various chocolate boxes for staff awards, events, birthdays, gifts, weddings, or gifts for dignitaries and conferences etc.
How can customers find Paradise Foods and buy your products?
We are currently located in the Fond Assua area in Babonneau. Customers can buy all our products directly from us or through vendors around the island. We offer delivery services to our customers to certain locations and for certain quantities.
Our chocolates are being sold at both airports and some hotel boutiques. Our fresh juices can be bought at some small vendors around Castries and bakeries around the island.
Customers can go to our website to find out where products are currently being sold and to place orders or inquires directly from us.
We are in the process of establishing a store of our own to sell all our products in a more central location.
Why is it important that all the foods you sell are sourced and produced in St Lucia?
We want to set a precedent of what can be done with what we have in Saint Lucia. When you go around the island throughout the year you see fruits being wasted on trees, falling on the ground and produce on hold not being used enough.
We think Saint Lucia has enough fresh produce to power Paradise Foods St. Lucia, and that’s just what we are doing.
By sourcing and producing local products we create another market for farmers to sell their produce to, and for everyday persons to start growing more to create an extra income for themselves and stimulate the economy.
We don’t want any produce to go to waste and try to have fruits available year-round through our pulps, juices, dried fruit and ice creams.
How has the business developed since it started?
I think what has developed most is our products.
We are trying out new things all the time to better our products and add new products to our line. We’ve learned a lot along the way about what to do and what not to do.
We’ve had steady development since conception and hope to continue and grow more.
Paradise Foods is the first-ever private sector business venture between Taiwan / St Lucia – please tell us more about how they came about?
During my time as ambassador in Taiwan, I got a lot of exposure to what they do in the agro-processing industry. The way they ensure that nothing goes to waste.
Most of what I’ve achieved in this company is because of the relationship I developed with Taiwan on a business and diplomatic level and through one-on-one relationships.
Once my tenure was over in Taiwan, I decided to take what I was exposed to over there and bring it to Saint Lucia.
What are your plans for the next five years?
We’re aiming to get even better.
We are working on adding a tour service to our factory, which should be completed this year, which will add a tourism aspect to our company, as well as acting as an education opportunity for students and all Saint Lucians.
We’re also looking to become eco-friendly, which will involve using renewable energy and more eco-friendly packaging.
Over the next five years I’d love to have our own store, as well as have our products in more locations around the island and perhaps explore exporting our products.
Which St Lucian entrepreneurs do you admire and why?
The Baron Foods company is one that I personally admire. They were able to take products we use every day as Caribbean people and innovate them to become a worldwide name.
Their journey from humble beginnings to a world class manufacturer is something truly amazing and something to look up to.
What do you love about St Lucia?
Saint Lucia is simply beautiful, its home. The natural beauty of the island, the rich culture and history, the friendliness of the people and the simple-life atmosphere. Saint Lucia truly is the Helen of the west.
If I was visiting St Lucia for the first time which top three places should I go to?
The Historic town of Soufriere which hosts The Pitons, Sulphur Springs volcano and many other historical sites.
Gros Islet with its historical Pigeon Island, the weekly street fair and the beautiful beaches.
Castries Market with is its rich cultural atmosphere.
What advice do you have for other start-up Caribbean companies?
I think one of the most important things in the Caribbean, if you are starting a company, is to ensure there is a market for what you’d like to offer through market research.
Also, understand the company laws of your island including registration, employees rights, tax laws etc.
What is your philosophy / motto in life?
Aim for the top and work hard to get there.
Contact Paradise Foods on 758-453-5901