Eden Joy Whole Foods, located presently in central Jamaica on Manchester Avenue in May Pen, Clarendon, is owned and run by Dr Elorine Turner-Pryce, and daughters Abe’ and Gabri Pryce.
It is a family owned and operated business which started 35 years ago as a home-based hobby simply run by the mother, but later expanded into lines of natural foods which now are available on several platforms including the company store in May Pen. The company was officially registered in October 2001.
“Eden Joy started because of the interest I had in natural foods and creatively using what we grow to create tasty foods and maintain good health. It was motivated also by the background from which I came,” Turner-Pryce shared with the Jamaica Observer. The business currently employs five persons, excluding those on a rotation seasonally.
Raised in Southfield, St Elizabeth, the founder of the natural foods store came from a family of subsistence farmers. “My parents were simple, particularly in lifestyle, and instilled in us the ethic of enjoying what we do and also living off the land” said Turner-Pryce.
She later became a Seventh-day Adventist and embraced the message of holistic health which added extra fuel to the fire both to live and feed holistically and spread the lifestyle to everyone, everywhere.
Later, as a wife and mother, Turner-Pryce raised her daughters on plant-based foods. The mother shared, “I had to be creative in trying to keep my family healthy and interested in their food.”
Still later, when she was diagnosed with stage II breast cancer in 2014 and was restored through lifestyle choices, she said that this propelled her into becoming more commercial. After escaping death, a world of possibilities opened up.
Turner-Pryce also became a client of the Jamaica Business Development Corporation and they assisted her in finding the tools and the expertise to move forward commercially.
Eden Joy currently manufactures whole foods and distributes on a catalogue basis as well via its retail outlet in May Pen, vegan, plant-based foods with a Jamaican flavour. The store has introduced gluten-free breads and other pastries on order, lactose-free cheeses and ice creams, ready dried soup mixes, proteins such as sausages, burgers, and grounds. Eden Joy also manufactures powdered drink mixes.
Additional lines of business are vegan and raw food chef training, both online and in house, in communities and churches as well as holistic nutrition training for individuals and groups. Eden Joy is also a source of recipes.
Targeting lifestyle change
Turner-Pryce’s target market is anyone who is interested in health and in particular individuals who are experiencing specific, life-altering health issues and who need to learn to maintain good health or simply develop the skills in healthy whole food preparations. With this, she has also targeted clients in the diaspora “who want to have a taste of home but in a healthy way.”
Products most in demand include comfort foods, convenience foods and snack items that are not readily available with individuals who are in need of these. Foods such as lactose-free cheese, ice cream and ice cream products, ready meals such as soups, macaroni and cheese and proteins such as sausages, ground meatless meats.
Many other products are offered but on a specialty foods basis in which individuals specifically request those foods such as gluten-free breads, cakes and other gluten-free, nut-free products.
The cheese, breads, proteins and ready meals contribute to approximately 80 per cent of sales, with ice cream and ice cream products growing by 30 per cent in the last five months. Jamaican cultural foods such as asham have been growing.
Eden Joy and its products, the owner says, has gained traction because her love of what she does is infused in every product manufactured. “I am excited about what I do. I bring this to my work,” says Dr Turner-Pryce.
“I love to feel my art in the foods and products I create. The advantage I have is my commitment to this process.”
The CEO of Eden Joy says that her creativity and out-of-the-box approach has benefited the business. “I am a risk taker with this and I am very persistent and persevering in the things I do. I take a personal approach to the people I serve by talking with every customer who shops for my items.”
Defence against cancer
Dr Turner-Pryce expounded, “The success of these products are due largely to the fact that individuals are becoming more aware of the need to follow a particular healthy lifestyle and the desire of persons who are suffering from many chronic diseases such as cancer to maintain their health and \live a better quality of life.
“There are few entities that provide holistic foods with the necessary skill base and knowledge in the process. People are also very anxious to learn and experience new things and this includes foods. I have long believed that as long as there is any food that is not plant-based, I must be able to create a plant-based alternative.”
Eden Joy was rebranded four years after Dr Turner-Pryce’s experience with cancer in 2014. The CEO explains, “I promised the Lord that I would educate others and spend the rest of my life doing that; hence, I have continued to operate Eden Joy. I have lived by the mantraâ€¦’it’s simply a matter of life’. “I have lived by just eating right and whole.”
Eden Joy is not her first venture, but the only one which has afforded profits. Turner-Pryce previously operated a non-profit organisation called The Lamb Shelter Foundation which assisted in training women who were unskilled through the HEART Trust in home health care, from where they were placed on the programme for overseas jobs. She was also involved with another non-profit which aided individuals with disabilities to find employment and skills.
The CEO shared, “I serve a unique market and I have unique products. It is relatively simple to establish such a business with the correct approach and background. I started very small and began as a hobby and grew from that nucleus. Running Eden Joy has always been a family approach. We have meetings and make decisions as a team and discuss all aspects of the business in that way. There is always the issue of finding appropriate and suitable labour. This is a unique business and not many people are qualified to do this, which also led to training persons.”
Eden Joy began with the investment of the Pryce family’s own savings. Dr Turner-Pryce said, “I have never taken loan financing for everyday running of the business. I tried to seek a loan 15 years ago in order to purchase machines to expand and it proved quite a difficult task. As such, I have only relied on family resources and our earnings since then.”
Growing market share in the retail outlets has been a challenge as many entities are slow to embrace small entrepreneurs. Turner-Pryce disclosed, however, that she is now in advanced negotiations with Hi-Lo Foods stores for the distribution of the products.
Yet another challenge lies in obtaining raw materials and consistently, economical and reliable printers for bags and other packaging. These continue to be deterrents. Nevertheless, she says she has overcome this by sourcing less expensive packaging and moving to more paper-based products obtained from local sources..
Dr Turner-Pryce concluded, “I have always been a solutions-oriented thinker who is methodical and steadfast in my approach. My strength in this area has driven me to seek other alternatives which are simple and economical ways and also focus on a networking approach to overcome the challenges.
“We have relied greatly on diversifying our products to scale up or down when the time requires it, as it was during the pandemic and have stayed afloat throughout.”
The total investments in this business over a four-year period has been in excess of $ 2.7 million in raw materials and machinery. Thirteen per cent of the amount was spent on increasing product awareness. Turner-Pryce said, “We have done well recouping this.”
She said that the whole foods venture is a profitable business overall, but this depends largely on the team available. For the financial year ended in March, Eden Joy saw profits of over 24 per cent when compared to the prior year.
This was mainly due to exports to Canada and the increased awareness of the local markets. Dr Turner-Pryce stated, “The relationship that we built with the local farming community and their provision of the raw materials that are needed helped propel the efforts further ahead. We are completely Jamaican in our input and approach and reduce much expenses on imports.”
In 2023, Eden Joy envisages a modest growth percentage of up to 20 per cent. The company was this year awarded the Nicola Gordon Buy Jamaican Product of the Year award by the JMEA and the Boss Lady of the Year by JBDC, both of which have provided market exposure.
The CEO stated, “This has also set us in a good place. Going forward, we will be pursuing more community engagements and targeting exports in a more realistic way as well as capitalising on the Caribbean region interests which have been coming in our direction in the last four months of the year. We will be continuing our networking with other small enterprises and engaging their skills in ensuring that raw materials and labour as well as output are maintained. We will be strategically scheduling departmentalising to engage target groups, such as schools and other institutions, heightening awareness. Our team will be focusing also on training for greater quality inputs.”