Business

Jablum maker’s new product to take on foreign brands domestically in July

Wednesday, June 25, 2014    

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LARGE coffee processor Mavis Bank Coffee Factory (MBCF) will launch a new instant coffee product, which aims to capture a segment of the local market dominated by overseas brands.

The product aims to tap into a younger market and also price-sensitive consumers.

"As part of a move to diversify our brand, Mavis Bank under the Jablum flagship will launch a new product soon in Jamaica that will deepen our penetration in the coffee market and will seek to expand our range of products," stated Senator Norman Grant, managing director and CEO of MBCF, in an Observer interview on Monday.

Grant described the product as an instant soluble coffee product, but declined to give further details prior to its launch slated for July.

The Observer viewed an unconfirmed prototype which contains granulated coffee rather than the traditional powdery instant coffee produced by local brands.

MBCF already sells a powdered instant coffee under the Jablum instant line but not a granulated one.

Grant explained that only overseas brands fill this market segment. Thus consumers can substitute the imported instant coffees with the local option.

"It is part of our strategy of the company to be a leader in a number of coffee segments," he added.

The Observer understands that the packaging will be mostly red compared with the blue colour in the existing instant bottles. It's the latest product launch at MBCF following the launch over a year ago of Jablum Gold -- a premium coffee bean product.

MBCF was fully acquired in the fourth quarter of 2011 by conglomerates Jamaica Producers Group (JPG) and Pan Jamaican Investment Trust, each holding 50 per cent shareholding.

During the 2013 financial year MBCF invested in constructing a waste-water treatment facility and bio-digester, which would allow it to conserve water and energy while meeting global environmental standards, stated the JPG financial on its coffee performance.

According to JPG, the factory will undergo a three pronged growth strategy which includes improving coffee quality via investing in equipment, strengthening its coffee supply chain with farmers amid an industry shortage. The third prong includes entering into coffee cultivation, an area it usually outsourced to thousands of farmers.

"To this end, we have taken the decision to cultivate a share of our coffee requirements and have identified lands suitable for this purpose and, in connection with JP's overall agricultural programme, have put in place a team with solid experience in coffee cultivation," stated JP in its annual report.

MBCF made $9 million in 2013 with half going to each shareholder. It holds $142 million in net assets as at December 2013, latest financials indicate. JP indicated that it pumped $136 million in working capital and associated costs into MBCF in 2013 compared with $121 million in 2012.

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