Business

Jamaican-owned, NY-made pot pies headed to PriceSmart in June

BY SHAMILLE SCOTT Business reporter scotts@jamaicaobserver.com

Wednesday, April 02, 2014    

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JAMAICAN-OWNED, New York-based Caribbean Food Delights will start supplying PriceSmart Jamaica with mini pot pies come June.

Sabrina's Delights Pot Pie Minis was introduced to the US market a year ago, in a bid to diversify the Jamaican-owned business, which mainly focuses on frozen patties.

"When our sales manager went to the stores, buyers used to ask if all we had was patty," said Vincent HoSang, CEO of the company. "We decided to make the pot pie minis because we wanted to diversify our products."

Some stores only have Sabrina's Delight and eventually they are going to take the patties, while the stores that have patties, will take the pot pie minis, he reasoned.

"It takes time for you to see the results, I would say two to three years, then you'll see repeat sales because not every product is going to do well," HoSang said at the Jamaica Observer Monday Exchange held at the newspaper's head office on Beechwood Avenue on Monday.

But offering the American pastry locally was a move made by the company's distributor, the CEO pointed out.

"We have a distributor in Florida that serves the Caribbean islands, and they are the one that's going to take it here," he said.

Sabrina HoSang, the chief operating officer of the company, who leads the new line hopes Jamaicans will take up the product.

"For now, only the three cheese pot pies will be at PriceSmart, but I suppose Jamaicans would love the mango and plantain flavours," she said.

As for the quantity that will be sent, the patriach of Caribbean Food Delights wouldn't venture a guess.

"I don't know how many the distributor will send, and how many products he'll get on the shelf," he said. "We aren't dealing with that aspect."

The distributor had some other products in PriceSmart already, so they sent samples of Sabrina's Delights, he explained.

Vincent also owns Royal Caribbean Bakery. The Mount Vernon-based manufacturer that is headed by his wife Jeanette, does pastries, bulla, bread, and buns.

Caribbean Delights is the arm that does frozen patties and chicken wings.

HoSang recently added an online store, where customers can purchase Caribbean Food frozen patties and chicken and Royal Caribbean Bakery's baked goods that are shipped overnight as well as company souvenirs, including umbrella and beach towels.

He has stayed away from franchising as well as selling to markets such as UK and Canada, primarily because of the associated costs.

"I have a formula that I work with, and I tell the prospective franchisees that listen, if you cannot achieve the revenue that we are looking to get, it makes no sense," he said.

"How it works in the food business is that your food cost should not exceed about one-third of your selling cost," he noted.

"I want to be truthful to people that if this is not going to work for you and you want to put up your hard-earned money and you're going to regret it, so told them upfront to hold off on that", he said.

As for staying out of Canada, HoSang said: "We didn't want to compete with our friends up there."

"In any business, if you can't achieve a certain margin, you can't stay in business because you have your equipment to service, your vehicles and those things," he said.

Six years ago, Caribbean Food Delights increased its factory from 30,000 square feet to 100,000 square feet; it added a whole new line, which now includes Sabrina's Delight.

HoSang also said that the company is in the process of upgrading one of its patty machines to make it produce a flakier product.

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