Making a name for itself as a food lovers’ paradise doesn’t come easy for an island nation which imports the vast majority of the products it consumes. But the perks that come with proximity to the U.S. don’t just limit themselves to direct flights, language, currency and time zone.
The food culture in the Turks and Caicos Islands has flourished in recent years, and Providenciales as its culinary capital boasts not only an impressive number of top-rated restaurants and chefs, but also a robust array of choices when it comes to groceries.
Regular shipments of top branded goods, European and Asian specialty products, and organic fruits and vegetables – primarily from the United States – make their way to the islands, available through wholesale distributors to restaurants and caterers, as well as to consumers.
$62.5m of food was imported in 2012 – about 28% of which was fresh produce.
As the most developed and populated island in the TCI, Providenciales has the largest selection of not only products to buy but also places in which to purchase them. With several major grocery stores and numerous smaller retailers, there are plenty of options for shopping. The large retailers are spread across the island of Providenciales from downtown to mid-town. Island Pride, IGA Graceway, Quality Supermarkets and Price Club all offer a wide selection of familiar products from Cheerios and Oreo cook- Distribution network brings quality, variety ies to Hass avocados and Idaho potatoes.
In Grace Bay, Graceway Gourmet caters to the specialty market where items such as goat cheese, Gluten-free pizza and soy milk can be picked up daily. Most other islands have retailers ranging from mid-size to small, and on nearly all the islands you will find locally grown products in the shops.
Of course, convenience and selection in paradise come at a premium, with prices on most items higher than on mainland nations due to factors such as shipping costs and import duties.
While there are no extra duties applied to immediate perishables such as milk, eggs, meats, and most fruits and vegetables, there is a 10 percent duty applied to foods like cheese and butter and a 15-30 percent duty to most other grocery goods.
For a nation of under 35,000 residents the selection of wines and beers rivals that of many larger cities. From French champagne to Belgian beer, several boutique island distributors make up for size in variety.
Duties on alcohol are higher than those for other groceries and in 2010, the Ministry of Health increased the duty rates on foods with a high sugar content such as ice cream, confectionaries, and chocolate to 40 percent. Duties are factored into the retail price, so no additional taxes are added at checkout. The store passes the collected taxes on to the government.