TAOYUAN (Taiwan News) – A delegation from Belize, Taiwan's diplomatic ally, paid a visit to the I-Mei Foods factory in Nankan (南崁), Taoyuan City, Thursday (August 15) to gain insight into how a high-quality food factory is run.
Tracy Panton (left) led the delegation from Belize to visit I-Mei factory (photo: Taiwan News)
Taiwan and Belize have been diplomatic allies since 1989, and this year marks the 30th anniversary of the relationship. In order to strengthen bilateral trade ties, Belize has sent a delegation to visit Taiwan from Aug. 12 to 16.
The delegation included Tracy Panton, the Minister of State for Investment, Duane Belisle, the Chief Executive Officer for Investment, Trade, and Commerce, Leroy Almendarez, the Executive Director of Beltraide, and Andy Sutherland, Director General of Foreign Trade. Belize Ambassador to Taiwan Diane Haylock also joined the group visiting the I-Mei factory.
Minister Panton first expressed her gratitude for Taiwan's invitation, and said that visiting the I-Mei factory has always been on their wish list. She is the only person in the delegation who has come to Taiwan before, when she made the visit 20 years ago.
The minister explained that the goals of their trip are negotiating a trade agreement with Taiwan and learning from the island's experience in food processing. She also mentioned that Belize is famous for its abundant raw materials, and hoped that the country can put them into better uses.
The visiting tour began at I-Mei's gift shop, where a wide array of products was on display. The delegation expressed amazement at the ingenuity of the designs such as the chess-shaped green bean cakes and Taiwan-themed packages.
The second stop was the Cultural Exhibition Hall, where the delegation members learned about the history of I-Mei Foods. I-Mei began as a humble cake shop in 1934, and has gradually grown into a major international food provider with products ranging from cakes, cookies, bread, cooking oils to organic food and nutrient supplements.
(photo: Taiwan News)
Then the group was offered a tour of the hamburger bun and English muffin mass production lines and a tasting of the freshly baked muffins. The production lines can produce about 20,000 hamburger buns every hour, and operate 24 hours per day to meet the high demand from some of the biggest food chains in Taiwan.
The staff at the factory then proudly presented the food safety laboratories to the visitors. The commentator explained how dioxin pollution and radiation pollution can be detected by the advanced examination processes.
The delegation from Belize toured the food safety lab (photo: Taiwan News)
In the brief discussion session held at the end of the tour, the minister said that she was impressed by I-Mei's commitment to food safety, which Belize can definitely learn from. She also noted that the I-Mei factory uses many raw materials that can be found in Belize, and hoped to sell more of them to Taiwan in the future.
Belize, located on the north eastern coast of Central America, is known for its natural beauty, especially the Belize Barrier Reef. The economy of Belize is mainly based on agriculture, exporting sugar, bananas, and fruit juice. The Belizean government has also tried to promote tourism in the country in recent years.
Taiwan's major imports from Belize include fishery products such as lobsters and sea cucumbers, and a variety of timbers. On the other hand, Belize mostly buys electronic devices and industrial parts from Taiwan. The trade between the two countries has been flourishing in recent years, with most Taiwanese businesspeople investing in farms and land development in Belize.