Trade Forum Features

The Jamaican spirit: All natural, vegan ice cream!

29 April 2024
Wayne Myrie, Cliff Riley, Sarah Charles and Benjamin Morrison, International Trade Centre

Larry Gardiner launched a vegan coconut ice cream line in Jamaica that is healthy, boasts Caribbean flavours and uses sustainably sourced ingredients from local farmer communities.


Read how a successful businessman, who returned from the United States to his home country of Jamaica and managed to scale up his business, adds value to his production, and creates jobs for youth through innovation and partnerships.

Many people have great business ideas or think of products that could fill a gap in the market. Few are those who successfully launch them into the world. Larry Gardiner belongs to the latter group of entrepreneurs.

Jamaica has a culinary landscape that celebrates vegan food. Combine that cultural heritage with a global rising demand for healthy food options – and especially for those with a sweet tooth – and you have a window of opportunity for all natural, vegan ice cream.

In 2012, Larry had a ‘lightbulb moment’ tasting his usual favourite ice cream and ran home to make his own first batch of it, but with a coconut milk twist. It was so good that soon after, he and his wife started BabyLove’s C-G Foods in Jamaica with just six buckets of ice cream and four cheesecakes.

Today, they have 91 flavours and are scaling up beyond their wildest dreams.


25 April 2024

Sustainable business: A product that tastes good and does good

Larry is part of the Jamaican diaspora. He spent a long time in the United States and decided to return to his homeland to enjoy Jamaica’s beautiful natural landscape and rich culture, but also to bring positive change to the table.

‘I had this idea that I wanted to make locally sourced, Jamaican ice cream, just a small operation. Now, here we are over 90 flavours later, a full-fledged business that can support our community.’

Jamaica and many other small island developing States (SIDS) rely on imports to meet local consumer needs. Most value-added products on store shelves come from other countries.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, this quickly became an issue as logistics were disrupted and products became scarce.

Today, Larry and other entrepreneurs in Jamaica are addressing this systemic problem by adding value in-country. BabyLove’s ice cream prides itself on being Jamaica-made, with Jamaica-grown ingredients.

‘Our ice-cream has a coconut milk base, and on top of that I have a passion for fruit flavours.  So, I started a farm-to-spoon programme working with local farmers.’

With the support of the International Trade Centre (ITC) and Jamaica’s Coconut Industry Board, Larry works directly with local farmers for sustainable ingredient sourcing, best processing practices and recipe development, and growing market linkages through alliances.

The icing on the cake of his successful enterprise has been job creation for local youth, as his business and personnel requirements continue to grow.

Eye on the long game: Expanding the business

BabyLove’s started with just four flavours. Today, it has 91 and counting. What started out as a small side project quickly turned into so much more.

‘The whole idea was to maintain for a year. We didn’t do any advertising because it was supposed to be a retirement moment, a small little ice cream store that would pay some bills and allow me to keep on traveling. But through word of mouth and local support, our growth has been phenomenal.’

At Expo Jamaica 2023, BabyLove’s came first in the ‘Buy Jamaican Spirit’ category and third in the ‘Best New Product’ category and was praised as ‘encapsulating the Jamaican spirit.’ This win, combined with other trade show event participations through ITC, has motivated Larry and his team to look at business and impact growth in the long-term.

‘We’ve outgrown our space in Tower Isle, so we decided to expand to a new, bigger factory outlet store location in Ocho Rios. In the future, I see a lot more ice cream.’

Through word of mouth and local support, our growth has been phenomenal.
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Under the programme Alliances for Coconut Industry Development for the Caribbean, funded by the European Union (EU) and supported by CARIFORUM, Larry is working with ITC’s sustainable agribusiness Alliances for Action programme.

The International Trade Centre’s Alliances for Action, the Caribbean Agricultural Research and Development Institute (CARDI) and important regional and national partners, such as Jamaica’s Coconut Industry Board and the Scientific Research Council, have been working since 2015 to facilitate alliances among actors at every step of the Caribbean coconut value chain through this programme.

Sustainable agriculture and processing practices, value addition and commercial alliances are some of the key elements leveraged. The goal of the project is to increase food availability and incomes of small-scale farmers and small businesses through improved competitiveness of the coconut sector.