Business

Island Grill teams with Wisynco

Wisynco leverages Trade Winds partnership, develops two new juice products for restaurant chain

BY JULIAN RICHARDSON Assistant business co-ordinator richardsonj@jamaicaobserver.com

Sunday, January 05, 2014    

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FAST food chain Island Grill has switched from Pepsi Jamaica to local Coca-Cola distributor Wisynco Group as its beverage supplier.

Wisynco has the largest non-alcoholic beverage portfolio on the island. The White Marl, St Catherine-based manufacturer and distributor recently acquired a 50 per cent stake in local juice maker Trade Winds Citrus, allowing it to completely round out its portfolio into a full complement of non-alcoholic beverages, from bottled water to sodas to juices.

Island Grill CEO Thalia Lyn told Sunday Finance that the move to partner with Wisynco is part of a broader strategy by the 19-restaurant fast food chain to have healthier product offerings.

"I am looking forward to the partnership because we are both true Jamaican companies and also the fact that we have seen a shift

from carbonated beverages to healthier, juice-based products," Lyn said.

Wisynco has developed two new juice products for Island Grill: Mango Peach and Jamaican Limeade. Lyn expressed enthusiasm for the limeade flavour in particular.

"Wisynco has developed for us a limeade, which is what kind of clinched the deal," noted Lyn.

"We said to them, 'if you can give us a good Jamaican limeade...'" she continued. "They worked on it, and we went back and forth, and they came up with something that we thought was very good."

The deal, which became effective on January 2, ends a more than two-decade partnership between Island Grill and Pepsi Jamaica, since the restaurant was founded in 1991 as Chicken Supreme.

Among Wisynco's own beverage brands are purified water product Wata; cranberry-flavoured water Cran Wata; Bigga soft drink; and energy drink Boom. It also produces international brands such as Coca Cola, Sprite, Schweppes, Minute Maid and Hawaiian Punch, under licensing agreements. Trade Winds, which Wisynco now has a 50 per cent stake in, is behind the Tru-Juice, Freshhh Fruit

Drinks, Squeezz and Wakefield brands of natural juices.

Wisynco Group managing director William Mahfood said the agreement with Island Grill cements the company's position as the dominant beverage partner with the quick-service restaurant (QSR) business in Jamaica.

The company in 2012 entered into a supply arrangement with Juici Patties, the largest restaurant chain in Jamaica with over 60 outlets. It also has deals with Burger King, Mother's and Margaritaville operator Island Entertainment, while also supplying its own local QSR franchises, Wendy's and Domino's.

"We are very excited; Island Grill is very local and very original. For many years I have been trying to work on them to see the benefit of partnering with Wisynco and our beverage portfolio," Mahfood said.

"This whole partnership will not only involve Coca Cola and other Wisynco brands, but also Tru-Juice as well. This is where we will now start to leverage the benefit of the partnership with Tru-Juice to these very large and very important customers," he noted.

Lyn said Island Grill will on January 18 host a grand launch of the new partnership at its University of Technology-based restaurant, a strategic move to target an increasingly health-conscious young-adult market with its menu offerings.

"By the 18th, we will have changed out all the equipment and we would also have, on the menu boards, calorie counts for our food ... and we have now taken out the MSG, as well out of all our products," Lyn said.

The partnership will also see Wisynco providing marketing and promotions support to Island Grill and collaboration for training of its over-1,000 staff members, as well as synergy for

outdoor events.

Island Grill restaurants feature Jamaican-style jerk chicken and festival, burgers and soups as well as traditional meals such as curry chicken and stew peas.

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