Summerfield, Clarendon, resident Lincoln Gordon is hoping for a break as one of leading food processors in Jamaica, with high hopes for his small agro-processing facility, which produces cassava flour, teas, powdered seasoning, sauces, and porridges.
Having been trained at the Loughborough University in England, the 63-year-old has managed to save millions on processing equipment by tapping into his engineering skills.
“We certainly wouldn’t have been able to buy machinery to do all of these products,” he disclosed.
The family-run business, Lincoln Gordon and Sons, has been in operation since 2011, with Gordon’s wife of 20 years, Julian, overseeing the daily operations as manager.
“Health is one of the highest factors in a person’s life, so we take pride in assisting persons with a healthy lifestyle,” Julian told The Gleaner, stressing that no preservatives or other chemicals are used in their products.
While the agro-processing business is facing challenges such as the seasonality of some crops and insufficient supply of raw material, which has been affecting profits, Julian noted that there has been a 100% increase in production since the local onset of the COVID-19 pandemic last March.
Orders for their products, marketed under the brand Lincoln’s, have also increased by roughly 150 per cent, with some being placed from overseas.
“It is always a growing demand, but the pandemic seem to bring a greater demand than we anticipate,” shared Lincoln.
He told The Gleaner that he has managed to keep his business afloat thanks to the service of farmers in the rural, farming northern Clarendon community. He sees the business as an important part of community development, hoping that it will help to reduce unemployment in the area.
Lincoln Gordon and Sons currently distributes its products to supermarkets and restaurants islandwide.
Lincoln describes agro-processing as a very lucrative business.
“It’s very profitable. It’s just a matter of marketing. The fact that they are natural, the market is growing in demand,” he said, adding that his signature produce, hot pepper sauce, paved his entry into the industry.
“I can assure you, our hot pepper sauce is the hottest pepper in Jamaica,” he proudly declared.
Also among the hot sellers are the turmeric ketchup and ginger-beet ketchup (made from ginger, beetroot, and sorrel) and the plantain and arrowroot porridges.
The new in-demand product is the vervain (verbena) tea, which Gordon says helps in treating the cold and respiratory symptoms associated with the dreaded COVID-19 disease.
The team’s innovative skills have led them to copping a few awards, including the National Commercial Bank’s Nation Builder Award in 2016 and being crowned the new champions of manufacturing in 2014 by National Baking Company.
Running a business is no easy feat, Lincoln said, however, citing financial setbacks, a lack of government support, and difficulties faced by small-business operators in accessing loans.
“I think the Government could do more for small businesses,” he said.