Adrian Loveridge Column – One of the Wonders of Barbados, Food and Rum Festival
Later this week Barbados will celebrate the tenth annual Food and Rum Festival with five days of special events and highlights to expose an incredible diverse choice of eating places and further compound the wide spread perception of being the Caribbean culinary capital.
Note, that I have not specifically mentioned restaurants, as increasingly both locals and visitors are ‘discovering’ edible alternatives.
For the first time this year, the ‘Food Truck MashUp’ will be featured and held at the Pelican Village between 2pm and midnight on Saturday 26th October, giving our enterprising smaller tourism entrepreneurs an incredible opportunity to showcase their creative offerings.
I really hope that our local manufacturers and distributors of rum and other beverages will fully support this particular day, with sampling tents and special offers, unique to the event.
It presents a great and low-cost way for Barbados based companies to influence brand choice, so when our visitors return home, they can make better informed choices, when confronted with multiple competing rum alternatives.
On the national tourism website (www.visitbarbados.org) there is even a full page dedicated to Food Trucks, stating that ‘Locals often refer to them as ‘food-vans’ and can be found today on every corner of the island’.
Clearly, there is a lot more both our policymakers and individual private operators can do, to better inform the public and get their product across.
For our food truck operators, existing or aspiring, you really don’t have to go too far to gain inspiration for a higher level. Websites like http://www.foodtruckempire.com and http://www.roaminghunger.com, present dozens of ideas.
Mention should also be made of the son of one of our leading business visionaries Edwin Thirlwell, whose offspring (Angus) created the Hotel Chocolat empire and recently launched the ‘Chocmobile’.
Despite its recent unfortunate incident, within a few days of being put on-the-road originally, it was selling up to 800 cups (and many other products) of hot chocolate a day.
Mr. Thirlwell senior, is probably among the very first global ‘van’ food pioneers, having founded the British based Mr. Whippy ice cream, back in the nineteen fifties.
Looking at liquid options, Prosecco and Gin have taken on an almost insurmountable ascension in popularity within the United Kingdom. Custom-built attractive three wheeled sales vehicles are now exported all over the world.
Could a similar concept be adapted to market our unique rums products at special events, weddings, functions etc.?
With a lot of vision, determination and support, the possibilities would appear almost endless, while helping us maintain our hard won reputation as a leading gastronomic destination. And at the same time fostering new businesses and generating further employment.
As I understand, in the United States, these ‘rolling restaurants’ are the ‘fastest growing segment of the dining industry’, already employing over 14,000 people, with a forecast combined turnover of US$2 billion per year in earnings. As previously unknown destinations continue to vie for ‘our’ market, it’s critical that we further encourage and develop all aspects of our tourism offerings to the highest possible standard.