Ashman Food Products in expansion mode

Business reporter

Sunday, January 28, 2018

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Ashman Food Products Limited will pump $15 million into the build out of 6,000 square feet of factory at its Vineyard Crescent facility in Old Harbour, St Catherine.

The plans for expansion follow a second Safe Quality Food (SQF) certification obtained by the company in December 2017, which opens up the business to the global market.

Already Managing Director Ira Ashman is thinking of exporting products to England and Australia. The company has also signed an agreement to supply five new products to the United States.

“In Australia, there is a market for pepper sauces. We have also been requested to supply ackees to Australia. We just developed a range of products that are more on the ethnic side, and we are sending out our first shipment to the United States next month,” Ashman told the Jamaica Observer in a round-table interview.

Currently, Ashman produces a total of 40 products, including canned ackees, bottled jams, jellies and pepper sauces. It means that 80 per cent of what Ashman manufactures goes to international markets through their export trading partners. But Ashman now wants to get his brand on the shelves of international supermarkets.

“A group from England was here the other day looking at ackees and the pepper sauces. As a matter of fact, if we had goods now, we could probably ship them. But in Australia we are still looking,” he told Sunday Finance.

He also hopes to secure a distributor for the local market.

As for the new factory space, Ashman plans to expand on the 10,000-square-foot facility that currently sits on three acres of land. Construction of the 6,000-square-foot factory is expected to start in December so it can become operational by March 2019. Currently in the process of applying to the Parish Council of St Catherine, Ashman anticipates that the expansion should improve production numbers by 30 per cent, especially since repairs to the road leading to the factory are in progress.

“Together with members of the community, we have spent $250,000 to fix the road. It's still not in the best condition, but over the years the company has lost about 27 suppliers of produce because most of them wanted me to guarantee that we [would] repair their vehicles when they got badly damaged,” he said.

Ashman now employs 62 individuals to manage operations, but will add 14 staff members upon expanding. The company now has the capacity to produce up to 9,000 pounds of pepper, 1,000 cases of jams along with the canning of 1,500 cases of ackee per week from its one-shift production system.

“When we set up the new factory and develop more products we will need a separate building for machinery. We have nowhere to put new machinery, and that's what is beating us now,” said Ashman.

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