Jamaica exported its highest quantities of ackee last year, according to Jampro vice-president Robert Scott, who was bullish about the prospects for such non-traditional goods in foreign markets.
Speaking on Tuesday at a workshop on castor oil, which is itself a non-traditional export that is positioning to take on larger markets, the Jampro executive, whose portfolio spans exports and market development at the state-run investment promotions agency, also noted that beverage exports climbed by more than 50 per cent last year.
Data published in the 2016 edition of the Economic and Social Survey of Jamaica, a publication of the Planning Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ), shows earnings from traditional products tracking less than US$200 million ahead of non-traditional exports.
The data also suggest that the gap has closed mainly due to the underperformance of the mining segment.
Non-traditionals, which include food, beverage and tobacco as well as crude materials, earned US$463.9 million last year, while traditionals brought in US$626.7 million.
Ackee exports increased to US$21 million, up nearly 42 per cent from $14.88 million the year before.
Big gains were also seen by the category described as beverages and tobacco (excluding rum), baked products, and juices (excluding citrus).
Baked products earned US$15.17 million, compared to US$10.53 million from the 2015, while juices earned US$8.99 million, up from US$6.35 million the year before.
Jamaica also exported US$11 million of non-alcoholic beverages, up 76 per cent, and US$37 million of alcoholic beverages, which grew 67 per cent.
Overall, non-traditionals grew exports as a group by US$27.6 million last year, while traditional experienced a big decline of more than US$138.3 million in the period.
The PIOJ said the fall-off in traditional exports, which accounted for 57.5 per cent of total domestic exports, was due to lower receipts from 'mining and quarrying', which fell by US$106 million, and manufacture exports, which were down by US$37.9 million.
The mining and quarrying segment includes bauxite, alumina and gypsum, which fell collectively by 16.5 per cent. Manufacture includes sugar exports, down 72.6 per cent; rum, which climbed 3.9 per cent; citrus products, up 16.1 per cent; coffee products, down 6.3 per cent; and cocoa products, down 9.9 per cent.
The agriculture crops that did well include banana, which grew 31 per cent; citrus, 30 per cent; coffee, 19.8 per cent; cocoa, 64.6 per cent, and pimento, 5.9 per cent.