Widespread reports of bananas being passed off as “Jamaican bananas” and bearing fake JP brands on Canadian supermarket shelves have raised concerns among Toronto’s diaspora community.
JP Farms, Jamaica’s largest commercial banana grower, has long marketed its St Mary’s grown bananas locally and internationally under the JP and St Mary’s brands.
Both registered trademarks are protected against unauthorized use.
The misleading labels on the counterfeit product differ from those on genuine JP Farms Jamaican fruit. Notably, the fake banana stickers are circular, while the JP stickers are oval.
In addition, the fake bananas use the old St Mary’s logo, while the JP bananas now use the refreshed St Mary’s logo. Initial investigations also point to fake “Jamaican bananas” originating from another Caribbean island.
JP Farms CEO Mario Figueroa explained other differences between fake fruit and real JP bananas.
“The fraudulent bananas show quality defects that would not meet JP Farms standards for export – these include sunburn damage and food too old to be used as boiling bananas – meaning the fruit would be hard when prepared.”
With potential serious public safety implications and a negative impact on the Jamaica brand, JP Farms is taking swift legal action to remove the bananas from the Canadian market as soon as possible.
JMEA Executive Director Kamesha Blake said: “The JMEA is deeply concerned about any instances of fraud, misrepresentation or sabotage against our members and by extension the ‘Jamaica brand’ in both local and overseas markets. We stand by JP and their decisions to take the necessary legal action to resolve this matter promptly. We will work with JP and other members of the JMEA to ensure that this matter is dealt with proactively to limit future occurrences.”
“Our customers have come to know and trust JP bananas and we are disappointed that that trust is being abused. For this reason, we have consulted with our legal team to take swift action to protect our customers, our hard-working farming team here in Jamaica, and our brand,” Figueroa added.
JP Farms Sales Manager Neleta White commented, “We have a strong presence in the Canadian market and export every two weeks to distributors that primarily serve the Caribbean diaspora.”
She further noted that JP Farms’ Canadian distribution partners have indicated that customers are already refusing to buy the fruit due to poor quality. Distributors have also expressed concern about the possible negative impact on the market for bananas grown in Jamaica in Canada.
Consumers are being urged to be vigilant and business owners are being urged to take precautions.
In the meantime, Jamaica Producers is encouraging Canadian stores selling fraudulent bananas to pull the fraudulent product from their shelves and to stop all sales of those bananas, effective immediately.
White backed this claim: “Our farming operations are based in Jamaica, but we maintain a strong outlook in all our markets, both local and international, and we would discourage anyone considering going down this deceptive route to a quick sale. feel free to take legal action.”
JP Farms is a subsidiary of the logistics and food conglomerate Jamaica Producers Group and is a leading grower of high quality tropical foods in Jamaica. The company’s markets outside Jamaica include the US, Canada, the Cayman Islands and most recently Trinidad and Tobago.
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