JP Farms, Jamaica’s largest commercial grower of bananas, has long sold its St Mary-grown bananas locally and internationally under the JP and St Mary’s brands. Widespread reports of bananas purporting to be “Jamaican bananas” on Canadian supermarket shelves have triggered concerns among the diaspora community in Toronto.
Misleading stickers on the phoney product differ from those on genuine JP Farms Jamaican-grown fruit. Notably, the imposter banana stickers are circular, whereas JP stickers are oval, the release stated.
Further, the imposter bananas use the old St Mary’s logo, while JP bananas now use the refreshed St Mary’s logo. Early investigations also point to the fake “Jamaican Bananas” originating from another Caribbean Island, the release added.
JP Farms General Manager Mario Figueroa explained further differences between the phoney fruit and genuine JP bananas, “The imposter bananas show quality defects that would not have passed JP Farms’ standards for export – these include sunburn damage and the food being too old to be used as boiling bananas – meaning the fruit would be tough when prepared.”
With potential severe implications for public safety and a potential negative effect on Brand Jamaica, JP Farms is swiftly taking legal action to remove the bananas from the Canadian market as soon as possible.
Executive Director for the JMEA Kamesha Blake stated that, “The JMEA is very concerned with any instances of fraud, misrepresentation or sabotage being perpetuated against our members and by extension Brand Jamaica on both the local and overseas markets. We stand with JP and its decisions to take the necessary legal action to have this matter dealt with forthwith. We will be working with JP and other JMEA members to ensure this matter is dealt with pre-emptively to reduce future occurrences.”
Figueroa added, “Our customers have come to know and trust JP bananas and we are disappointed that this trust is being exploited – for this reason we have consulted with our legal team to take swift action to protect our customers, our hard-working farm team here in Jamaica and our brand.”
JP Farms Commercial Manager Neleta White noted that, “We have a strong presence in the Canadian market and export bi-weekly to distributors that primarily serve the Caribbean diaspora.”
She further noted that JP Farms’ Canadian distributor partners have indicated that customers are already refusing to purchase the fruit due to the poor quality. The distributors have also expressed their concerns about the potential negative impact on the Jamaican-grown banana market in Canada.
Consumers are encouraged to be vigilant, and store owners are encouraged to take action.
“While we pursue legal action, we strongly encourage Canadian stores selling the imposter bananas to pull the fraudulent product from their shelves and cease all sales of these bananas with immediate effect,” Figueroa stated.
Supporting the point, White affirmed, “our farming operations are based in Jamaica, but we maintain a strong line of sight in all of our markets both locally and internationally and would discourage anyone thinking of taking this deceptive route for a quick sale as we will not hesitate to pursue legal action.”
JP Farms is a subsidiary of logistics and food conglomerate Jamaica Producers Group and is a leading grower of high-quality tropical foods in Jamaica. The company’s markets outside of Jamaica include the United States, Canada, The Cayman Islands and most recently Trinidad & Tobago.