BY JULIAN RICHARDSON Assistant business co-ordinator email@example.com
JAMAICA Beverages Limited (JBL) plans to export concentrate throughout the Caribbean and the UK, while the company looks to position itself as a leading player in the non-alcoholic drinks market following its acquisition of the Jamaica Citrus Growers Limited's (JCGL) Bog Walk, St Catherine plant.
What's more is that JBL, which is a subsidiary of Trinidadian manufacturer S M Jaleel & Company, will be the exclusive supplier of grapefruit juice to PepsiCo, for the manufacturing of Ting, which boasts 100 per cent grapefruit juice, said Paul Shoucair, JBL's acting general manager.
"We at Jamaica Beverages Limited are committed to doing whatever we can to grow the company, the products and by extension provide opportunities for citrus farmers to increase their output and provide employment for persons in and around the community of Bog Walk," said Shoucair on Wednesday at an official announcement of the purchase of the Bog Walk plant.
JBL finalised the purchase of JCGL's factory and lands in December, but has been managing the operations since May while due diligence was still taking place, as a "show of commitment to the investment plan", Shoucair said.
The Bog Walk plant is located on seven acres of land, with an additional seven acres, which can be used for future expansion. It consists of four sections: a concentrate plant, which runs for six months a year from November to May during the orange and grapefruit season; the feed mill plant, which is in operation six months a year, is the section where the pulp from the citrus is converted to animal feed; the chill juice plant, which produces juices; and the milk-processing plant which produces whole milk and flavoured milk products.
Shoucair said JBL will have invested $1 billion upon the acquisition of the plant over the first year, inclusive of the purchase of the property and the cost of upgrading equipment at the plant and overall renovation of the facilities. Since the company has acquired the plant and taken over operations, it has rebuilt all the filling machines and juice extractors, bringing them back to industry standards, and hired around 50 new staff members, the acting general manager said.
JBL's products include a range of carbonated soft drinks, exotic fruit juices, purified and flavoured water, energy drinks and other flavoured beverages, including Fruta, Busta and Chubby. Under the purchase agreement of the Bog Walk factory, the company will pay royalty to Jamaica Citrus Growers Limited for use of the Juciful brand, which the 7,000-member citrus growers' organisation still owns.
JBL, which has been in operation in Jamaica since 1998, has its head office at the Naggo Head Industrial Complex in Portmore and a distribution centre at the Montego Bay Freezone. The investment in the Bog Walk plant adds the perfect synergy to the company's operations, Shoucair said.
"When the chairman saw the opportunity to manufacture in Jamaica and the Juiciful plant came up for sale, he said let's go after it," Shoucair told Caribbean Business Report.
JBL has assured the citrus farmers that the company will be purchasing all their citrus products. The company plans to launch new products, to be announced at a later date.
"As our market share increases, we will be adding more contract van sales representatives, more staff at the plant, more merchandisers, more distributors and more contract truck drivers to our team," Shoucair said.