Beer jobs

Red Stripe to employ more workers as it resumes exports to US, introduces new packaging line

BY BALFORD HENRY Senior staff reporter balfordh@jamaicaobserver.com

Wednesday, August 03, 2016

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RED Stripe will be employing 30 more people as it prepares to resume its export of the world-famous lager beer to the United States next month, and plans to employ another 300 when it completes a major upgrade of its brewery on Spanish Town Road in Kingston.


Managing Director Ricardo Nuncio told Cabinet ministers Audley Shaw and Karl Samuda, who toured the Spanish Town Road brewery with a host of press personnel yesterday, that the company — a subsidiary of Dutch brewing company Heineken International — would resume brewing for the foreign market in mid-August.


"We should be ready to start shipping the product to the US market as of the first week of September. That is now a reality. It is going to happen in the first week of September," Nuncio told his guests during lunch in the company’s recreational room, which followed the tour.


D&G had been manufacturing Red Stripe at the local brewery since 1938, but in 2012 then parent Diageo decided to shift production of the product to Latrobe, Pennsylvania, in the United States, to service its US consumers.


The move led to a few beer drinkers taking the company to court, alleging that phrases like "Jamaican Style" and "Taste of Jamaica", which appeared on the bottles, were intentionally misleading labelling by Diageo.


The case was dismissed in April after the court expressed the view that the beer need not be manufactured in Jamaica to be called a Jamaican beer, as the nationality was a modifier and not a statement of origin. However, on taking over the company, new owners, Heineken, decided to revert to brewing the export product at the original source — the Red Stripe brewery in Kingston.


Nuncio said that the brewery has already acquired a new multi-packer that will be used for the production of the beer for the US market. "That is going to be functional as of the middle of the month," Nuncio said yesterday.


But he pointed out that Heineken has "huge expectations" for the domestic market as well as the export market.


"We are going to invest in a new packaging line as of next year. That is a huge investment for us. Approximately 60 million euro we will be investing next year, and that should be up and running, if everything goes according to plan, by September to October of next year," Nuncio announced.


He said that the new line would be limited to producing for the export market, while the current packaging line will be used exclusively for the local market.


The Red Stripe boss said that the company also plans to increase its cassava farm from the current 300 acres to approximately 1,000 acres by the end of year, as it increases the use of the local product as the starch base in its beverages from five per cent to 10 per cent.


Finance Minister Shaw told the press at a post-tour briefing that he hopes that Red Stripe’s growing dependence on local cassava farming for the starch in its beverages will become a model for other companies to turn to local raw materials for input into their products.


He said the Government was willing to "smooth the way" for Red Stripe to meet its targets.


"You have taken a step and we have got to take those steps with you," Shaw said.


Samuda, meanwhile, described the project as an "exciting venture" and a "wonderful project" and also assured the company of his ministry’s full support.

 


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