Export potential

Jody White, founder and managing director of Slimdown 360. PHOTO BY SASHA HARRINANAN. May 17, 2018
Jody White, founder and managing director of Slimdown 360. PHOTO BY SASHA HARRINANAN. May 17, 2018

Jody White is on a mission to make agriculture in TT truly sustainable through the sale of locally produced, value-added products made by his company, Slimdown 360.

You're probably already familiar with the company's meal delivery service as well as its line of sweet potato pasta, cassava pasta and instant mashed provisions.

Seeking to grow his company, White took part in the inaugural Pitch@Palace Commonwealth event on April 16, during the 2018 Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in England.

White pitched his pastas and mashed provisions, seeking an opportunity to sign distribution deals which would see his products being sold in health shops and supermarkets across the UK. He wants to enter this market because there's currently more demand there than in the US for cassava and sweet potato products.

Slimdown 360's test products: (top left) cassava wonton skins, (top right) dried five fingers fruit, (bottom right) cassava crackers and (bottom left) dried mango. PHOTO BY SASHA HARRINANAN. May 17, 2018

Established in 2010 as a meal production company out of his mother's kitchen, Slimdown 360 has grown to become TT's largest meal delivery service, with a wide variety of healthy options.

When the Pitch@Palace host asked how he intended to break into the very competitive UK market, even with a pasta product that's only 180 calories per serving, White pointed out that Slimdown 360 is the only company in the world making pasta made from sweet potato or cassava.

"This actually has the world's highest levels of potassium in any pasta. We qualify for heart-healthy labelling and also in the fitness industry, no other pasta has this level."

Regarding the company's current manufacturing capacity, he said, "we can produce up to one tonne per day. I have peeled a lot of sweet potatoes by hand to get to this point."

Jody White, MD of Slimdown 360, talking about one of his newest products, cassava crackers during a May 17 interview with Newsday's business reporter Sasha Harrinanan at the Ministry of Trade and Industry's head office, Nicholas Tower, Port of Spain. White is also hoping to launch cassava wonton skins and dried fruits, starting with five fingers and mangoes (see packets on table). PHOTO COURTESY THE MINISTRY OF TRADE AND INDUSTRY.

White placed third overall and was voted People's Choice out of the 42 participants. It's been a little over a month since White returned home and in that time, he's begun negotiations with UK-based distributors for private labelling opportunities.

"That is what we are heavily pursuing – private labelling – because we aren't as versed with the markets. They (distributors) already sell to the supermarkets, they know the buyers."

White was given the opportunity to enter Pitch@Palace through sponsorship provided by exporTT, the trade policy implementing agency of the Ministry of Trade and Industry.

The ministry, through exporTT, has been lending support to local businesses with export potential. The intent is to build the capacity and reach of these businesses, with the ultimate goal of building globally competitive businesses.

Business Day caught up with Slimdown 360's founder and managing director during his May 17 visit to the ministry's head office, Nicholas Tower, Port of Spain.

White was there to give out samples of a potential new line of products – cassava crackers, cassava wonton skins and dried fruits, namely mango and five fingers.

Jody White, founder and managing director of Slimdown 360, proudly displaying a slice of dried mango, the newest product from his company. PHOTO BY SASHA HARRINANAN. May 17, 2018

The value-added agricultural items are something White has wanted to make on a commercial scale for about years now but until recently, he didn't have the necessary equipment.

White told Business Day he sees these as potential competitors to imported preserved fruits. If successful, Slimdown 360's version would not only help to sustain local agriculture, it would reduce the demand for foreign exchange (forex). If the company moves to export the items later on, it would become a forex earner – something TT is in need of, as most of the country's forex comes from the energy sector.

Although he made samples of cassava wonton skins and cassava crackers, White intends to introduce a dried fruit line to consumers within a month, starting with test sales at supermarkets and health food shops.

Another benefit White cited to buying locally made dried fruit slices is that you can enjoy your favourite fruit at your convenience.

"Every mango season you have mangoes falling off everybody's tree and wasting (but) this gives you an opportunity to save food, preserve it... It would be nice to go to the supermarkets and see local fruits overtaking imported ones."

White said this type of product is needed if TT's agriculture sector is to be more profitable and sustainable, able to attract young people to take over from the ageing population of farmers.

Slimdown 360's pasta and mashed provisions have been available in Trinidad supermarkets since January 2017. White expects to have them available in Tobago in the next month or two.

Something else to look out for is a possible name change, since people often think a Slimdown 360 product has to do with weight loss.

Slimdown 360 began selling its products in the US about two months ago via www.shopslimdown360.com.

Its original site, www.slimdown360.com caters to the local market, allowing customers to purchase tailored meal delivery plans. The company also posts recipes on its Instagram and Facebook pages as well as on its YouTube channel.


"Export potential"

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