Jamaican Teas to export sorrel product

Business reporter bennettk@jamaicaobserver.com

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

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Jamaican Teas will be introducing new product lines by June.

The food processor, known for its hot beverage products, will start the production process for whole dried sorrel, instant sorrel, and instant chocolate with coconut and sea salt later this month.

"We have whole dried sorrel in a stand-up pouch; very attractive and I think should go down well because that’s something you can have any time of the year. Then we have the instant sorrel drink with ginger, sorrel crystals, and you just add cold or hot water to your preference and it makes a very realistic natural sorrel drink," CEO John Mahfood told the Jamaica Observer.

Jamaican Teas second-quarter results, ending March, the manufacturing division recorded sales growth of more than 11 per cent or $9 million each for domestic and overseas sales over the comparative quarter last year.

The sales growth included the introduction of a number of new products including Jamaican Teas chicken noodle soup and sour sop tea. Profit before tax for the division was $35 million compared to $36 million for the first quarter, according to company financials.

Mahfood noted that the company plans on further expansion of its product lines, but provided no details on the products. He’s, however, optimistic about the instant sorrel drink and dried sorrel on the export market. The company already produces a sorrel tea.

"It’s a very popular product in Jamaica and overseas, and normally one only gets sorrel grown for Christmas. Very healthy product, so we said how we can make it more convenient. Having the whole sorrel dried and ready to drink is something I believe people will want, and then to have the instant sorrel where there is no fussing, no boiling. So it was from that standpoint we thought that those two variants of sorrel would be a good item and will also be good for the export market," he told the Business Observer in a telephone interview.

"Most of what we do first has to be something that we think we’ll export and be able to do well with. The sea salt... more and more Jamaicans are looking towards what they consider more natural products, and sea salt is one of them and our customers have been asking for that.

"In the bag it’s very inexpensive compared to the imported ones that are in canisters and so on, which are relatively expensive," Mahfood continued.

Jamaican Teas currently manufactures more than 30 flavours of teas, including the production of ginger and moringa teas. Its export markets include Trinidad and Tobago and Barbados.

Gross profit for the group — which includes its manufacturing, real estate and retail business — increased by $13 million or 22 per cent for the quarter under review, and for the year to date by $30 million or 24 per cent.

Expenses for the quarter increased by $9 million or 19 per cent, and by 18 per cent or $16 million for the year to date. The profit before tax for the second quarter of $31 million outperformed the profit of $20 million for the comparative quarter by $11 million or 55 per cent.

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