US$80-m boost for JWN rum production
A US$80-million investment by Italian spirits company Campari Group Limited will see its local subsidiary, J Wray & Nephew Limited (JWN), ramp up its output of rum to meet growing international demand, as well as improve is waste-management systems.
On Friday, Campari Group executives joined by members of the political directorate commissioned into operation a new column still valued at US$14.1 million and unveiled a US$65-million Vinasse (dunder) treatment plant slated for completion in 12 months at its New Yarmouth distillery in Gimme-Me-Bit, Clarendon.
Construction of the “one-of-a-kind”, “state-of-the art” column still began in the summer of 2020 and was completed in October 2021. The technology was designed to enable automated operation and control in the rum-making process and will cut JWN’s energy consumption by about 30 per cent while reducing waste generation of dunder by around 20 per cent.
Dunder is the waste left from rum distillation, comprising ammonia and sulphur compounds, which can have a negative impact on the environment if not treated.
The new equipment will also enable JWN to triple its production capacity from 20,000 litres of rum to 60,000 litres, according to Campari Vice-President of Manufacturing — Americas Crea Kitcher. Additionally, it allows the company to increase the number of marques it is able to produce.
“The ability to produce multiple rum marques from a single column means that it increases the amount of rum that can be produced. This means that even more will be produced to supply demand, ensuring there are no shortages of rum here and a significantly increased production to take advantage of the global market,” chairman of the Spirits Pool Association Clement “Jimmy” Lawrence explained.
He also pointed out that this bodes well for the spirits industry and, by extension, Jamaica, which will realise increased earnings in foreign exchange through additional exports of rum.
Speaking to the
Jamaica Observer during a tour of the plant, Lawrence pointed out that the new investments being commissioned are “a part of what we dreamed of” now becoming reality. The former JWN chairman, who served the local rum producer from 2016 to 2021, said while there was a commitment to achieve such investments, “there wasn’t the necessary resources to make all of this happen”. Nevertheless, he is satisfied with the accomplishment.
The column is one of the largest in the Caribbean and is uniquely designed with technology to consume about 20 per cent less energy when compared to regional standards. In addition to optimising energy, it delivers improved waste generation by reducing about 27 per cent of dunder.
According to JWN Senior Director of Supply Chain Georgina Rueda, “Both the energy efficiency and waste reduction are key steps in our sustainability journey.”
At the same time, the company’s dunder treatment plant will convert the waste material into concentrated molasses solids, which can be used to create animal feed for livestock, and combine it with water for the fertigation of crops. As such, JWN will ensure that its waste management needs are met as it increases production.
Managing director of JWN Jean-Philippe Beyer pointed out that the plant has created “a commercially viable and environmentally-friendly solution to address” the challenge of waste management.
“As our distillery’s capacity has doubled, we are producing more dunder than ever. The new plant will treat the waste sustainably, allowing us to overcome challenges posed by adverse weather conditions and changing weather patterns due to global warming,” he explained.
Now in its first phase, the dunder treatment plant will process approximately 264,000 cubic metres of waste in 2024. However, when asked by
Observer for a timeline for the second phase of development, Kitcher said that there was none finalised for this year.
Welcoming the new investments, minister without portfolio in the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation Senator Matthew Samuda said the initiatives demonstrate that “in working with government and looking at the regulatory framework and queueing up investments in a sensible way, Jamaica can achieve its environmental targets while achieving the prosperity and economic development we all seek.”
Since acquiring the JWN operation in 2012 Campari has invested more than $193 million in the local entity. Of that amount, US$6.2 million was invested in a wastewater treatment plant, solar photovoltaic system, and solid waste recycling facility at the company’s Spanish Town Road plant in St Andrew; and US$7 million was invested in the branding of the Joy Spence Experience at Appleton Estate in St Elizabeth.
Campari CEO Bob Kunze-Concewitz pointed out, too, that the company has invested in the creation of an Appleton Estate duty-free boutique at Sangster International Airport in Montego Bay. The company has also invested US$10 million annually in the local brand.