SALADA Foods's purchase of canned food and juice company Roberts Products signals its plan to diversify outside of the hot beverage market.
The coffee maker notified the Jamaica Stock Exchange (JSE) that it entered a deal to buy certain assets of the food manufacturer, including its factory and its trademarks for an undisclosed sum.
Salada's plan is to expand Roberts's product lines, which presently includes jams and jellies as well as sauces and spices.
It will go "into other value added agro-processing products within the existing capabilities of the manufacturing plant", according to Julian Rodney, Salada's general manager.
"The plan is to resuscitate the company's productive capacity and regain market share," he told the Jamaica Observer. "To do so there will be some retooling along with the implementation of its GMP and HACCP programmes."
New rules laid out under the Food Safety Modernisation Act (FSMA) requires that by 2012, all processed foods entering the US must be tested by an accredited laboratory. The Act will be implemented in phases up until December 2012.
Roberts already exports to the US, and lists canned ackees as one of its products, which means it wouldn't be entirely unfamiliar with tough US regulations.
The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced a recall of 31 cases of canned ackees shipped to Massachusetts, New York and Connecticut, due to higher than acceptable levels of hypoglycin in 2005. A 10-month import ban followed before the product was allowed to re-enter the US under closer scrutiny.
Rodney said that Roberts currently exports some of its products to the US, although there has been a significant decline in recent years.
In any case, Salada won't confine itself to exporting to the US. It aims to target non-traditional markets as well, while it said it would focus on maximising the use of local resources when bringing the new products on stream.
A detailed assessment of the manufacturing plant is currently underway to determine how much money will be needed to roll out the plan.
Salada, which also packages ginger tea, set up a new subsidiary — Mountain Peak Processors, named after its flagship coffee brand -- to assume control of Roberts.