When Winston Stona founded Caribbean gourmet food company Busha Browne’s over 25 years ago, Caribbean cuisine was still unfamiliar to many cooks, consumers and shoppers. But as consumers’ preference for new, innovative, and flavorful products has increased, so too has demand for the company’s sauces, chutneys and jellies.
Stona attributes some of this growth to the taste preferences of younger generations, whom he believes have been exposed to more international flavors and are more open to spicy foods. According to Stona, travel to the Caribbean has also gotten easier, which exposes more individuals to its native flavors.
For his own contributions to the industry, at this year’s Winter Fancy Food Show, Stona was inducted into the Specialty Food Association’s Hall of Fame
That’s not to say that even with all his experience, Stona finds that the industry has become easy to navigate. “The demands are humongous and the cost is becoming challenging,” Stona notes. He cites the rise of online shopping, getting (and maintaining) shelf space and new customer acquisition as part of the reason “every year you probably have 255 new brands…and by the end of the year that’s down to around five.”
In a video interview at this year’s Winter Fancy Food show, Stona details his own company’s history, how the industry as a whole has changed, and where new entrepreneurs should be mindful.