General Manager, Eden Joy Whole Foods – Dr. Elorine Turner Pryce, showcases some products from the company’s line of vegan foods. (Photo: JIS)

BREAST cancer survivor Dr Elorine Turner Pryce has turned her passion for healthy eating into a thriving business.

Through her vegan food line, Eden Joy Whole Foods, she is on mission to promote the healing power of food, while earning an income.

Dr Turner Pryce, who was diagnosed with stage two invasive breast cancer five years ago at age 49, credits her recovery to the holistic diet, which inspired her to establish the business.

“For the last 30 years, I have been very committed to natural health and then when I got diagnosed with breast cancer and I got restored, that kind of cemented my focus on educating people about natural and healthy lifestyles and healthy nutrition. Eden Joy is about helping people to be healthy and maintain a healthy lifestyle. Our motto is ‘It is Simply a Matter of Life’. That is how we operate and that is our mantra,” she said,

The company, located at 79 Manchester Avenue in May Pen, Clarendon, provides a range of raw and vegan food products for the health-conscious consumer seeking alternatives to processed foods available on the market.

Products manufactured by the company include lactose-free cheese, mozzarella -style cheese, cheddar-style cheese, cream-style cheese, regatta, yogurt and vegan-style butter, vegan sausages, vegan sandwich middles, vegan fillet, as well as dry mixes for gluten-free bread, muffin mixes, among other things.

Dr Turner Pryce, who is a certified vegan chef and holistic nutritionist, with a PhD in forensic mediation and counselling, said she strives to make her products as natural as possible, using locally grown produce to ensure that the highest quality ingredients are in every recipe.

“We try as much as possible to stay at least 95 per cent Jamaican. We use the things around us — breadfruit, sweet potato, coconut, cashew,” she said.

Dr Turner Pryce said that in the early years of operation Eden Joy Whole Foods was “like a hobby”, However, as demand grew, she decided to seek assistance to boost production, and in July 2018, she approached the Jamaica Business Development Corporation (JBDC).

“From the very first day it was so overwhelming the assistance I received. JBDC worked with me in such a way I felt safe in getting the kind of support I needed to grow. Now I am doing business,” she says.

“In the last year or two, they have literally walked me through and got me from the idea to the shelf, so JBDC is where I have gotten most of the assistance,” she adds.

The entrepreneur said that it was through the JBDC that she benefited from the Development Bank of Jamaica (DBJ) Voucher for Technical Assistance (VTA) programme.

Under this programme, the DBJ assists micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) to strengthen their managerial and administrative capabilities and access business credit to expand and upgrade their operations.

The VTA programme provides partial grants to MSMEs that operate specifically in the productive sectors, enabling them to access business support services provided by DBJ-approved business development organisations. The grants cover up to 70 per cent of the cost of specific services and range from $50,000 to $200,000.

“It is a product development [instrument] for small entrepreneurs. JBDC…assisted me in applying for that grant. I received $200,000 that I used to develop my products,” Dr Turner Pryce said.

As part of the product development process, the JBDC also put her in contact with national standardisation entity, Bureau of Standards Jamaica (BSJ) to ensure the Eden Joy meets the required standards.

“In working with the BSJ, I used [the DBJ grant] to do the nutrition charts and labelling. I basically used it to get the products developed and branded and to do all the microbial and nutrition testing. They do not give you the cash, rather they pay for the services you need, which I find works much better for me,” she tells Jamaica Information Service (JIS) News.

Dr Turner Pryce, who says her products are now being sold in ‘Things Jamaican’ stores expresses gratitude for the invaluable assistance she has received to take her products “to market.”

She notes that through JBDC and DBJ, she has been able to achieve many of her business goals.

“They helped to guide me in documenting the (production) process, in pointing me to the BSJ, in helping me to prepare the standards. They also provided the facility for me to do all the production. They helped me to develop my packaging, labelling, designs,” she says.

JBDC Technical Services Manager Colin Porter said that the agency remains committed to supporting the country’s MSMEs in developing their products and accessing markets.

“We look at the entire picture of supporting entrepreneurs, whether in their business strategy, financial literacy, or product development. We even bring persons into a facility where we have production spaces and incubators, where they can create and do first runs of batches of their products using our equipment. We have a very hands-on approach with our clients,” he noted.

Porter said each client is assigned one or more officer, depending on their needs.

“They would be assigned a business development officer, a technical officer and as with the case of Dr Turner Pryce, she would have been assigned to one of our food technologists, and graphic designers for her packaging,” he tells JIS News.

He says that the agency also engaged Dr Turner Pryce in a series of consultation sessions “to look at what her challenges and needs are and work with her to find solutions”.

“Our team always tries to look for the most innovative and appropriate solutions and apply it to our clients’ products and their business. We work with the client to ensure their products are meeting whatever goals are set out to ensure that they can reap some success and benefits at the end of our intervention,” he notes.

Dr Turner Pryce said that the JBDC’s support continues, noting that she is always invited to expositions and other such events being staged by the agency.

“They help me to source materials and they constantly give me feedback. I was able to test some of the products on the staff there… They provided a wealth of information,” she added.

Dr Turner Pryce added that the JBDC support has enabled the company to operate in a more structured, organised, accountable and responsible way.

“I know now I have to be accountable and there is no room for certain errors. I have to keep records and things like that. Working with JBDC, it has exposed me and helped me to streamline, formulate and function in a generally manageable way and a more responsible way about business,” she says.

Turning to her future plans, she said that she intends to expand the Eden Joy product line.

“We are going to be launching some ready meals that are vegan/vegetarian, low-calorie, gluten-free… We are hoping to do that in another two or three months,” she says.

The JBDC is the island’s leading business development agency, offering marketing, financial support, business incubation, technical support and business advisory services to MSMEs.

It offers help across the spectrum, from guiding business start-ups to a wide range of consultancy advice for established businesses.

— JIS

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