Hilda's Merlot Hot Pepper Jam & Hilda's Merlot Jelly

Counting Down To The 21st Staging Of The Jamaica Observer Table Talk Food Awards, Thursday, May 30, 2019

Thursday, April 18, 2019

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I made this product because... I recognised a need for diversity in the Jamaican food market and decided to use my own innovation to create exciting products that locals and tourists can enjoy.

My major challenge is... finding the resources to scale-up the business, hiring full-time employees and putting together an ideal team. Finding regular farmers for the sweet peppers and Scotch bonnet peppers to ensure consistency and reliability in delivery for the manufacturing of the products.

The product will be available to the public in... 2-3 months.

Hilda's Merlot Jam will be available at... select specialty gourmet shops or by direct order through the company.

The response to the product has been... excellent. The product is enjoyable to most persons and there is definitely a demand for it.

Our core customers are... tourists, persons interested in a unique and high-quality product to use as corporate gifts, wedding favours, hotel gifts, specialty items. We are a premium wine jam and jelly and would not be competing with the other jams and jellies in the market.

I plan to grow the business to become... an international brand. The intention is to eventually export to the wider Caribbean and North America.

My first breakthrough came when... I attended a local arts and crafts fair. One of the vendors offered a taste of their wine jelly. I had never heard of it before and tried it. I loved it and bought a couple jars. A few years later I started making regular jam and infused it with wine. On my yearly trips to Jamaica, I tried it on family members and they loved it.

Jamaicans should support my product because... it is a new, delicious and high-quality product with a unique flavour that everyone can enjoy.

My product is successful because... it fills a niche that is not present in the current market. Because it is made from wine, it brings a certain level of sophistication and luxury that isn't currently present. It's a product that makes you feel special and, given as a gift, will make the person receiving it feel special as well. Also, it is quite versatile and can be used in a variety of food applications — it's not just for breakfast.

If I knew then what I know now... starting a business uses up a lot of your resources and there are a lot of unexpected and recurrent expenses. I think being prepared for all the unexpected things that arise financially is something I wish I knew then.

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