Seprod Group through its biscuit-making subsidiary, International Biscuits Limited (IBL), said it will invest over $170 million to expand factory facilities as it seeks to roll out a new line of cheese snacks.
Over the course of the next two years, the company said it will extend product offerings, eyeing an entry in the extruded cheese snacks segment commencing with the introduction of five new products including the more affordable 16- and 32-gram cheese curls Cheezy Zoolu and King Puffs snacks.
IBL, known for its more popular Butterkist, Ovaltine, Pic Nix, Snackables and other biscuit products, through this latest expansion is seeking to diversify its stake outside of its dominant place in the local biscuit market, with hopes to also significantly increase revenues.
“Equipped with a new oven, oil spray machine and tumbler system, the cheese snacks line is expected to improve profits for the company. This innovation is game-changing and with this new initiative, we expect to see an increase in our revenue by 20-25 per cent,” said Howard Guthrie, general manager of IBL.
“Butterkist has been known as the brand that bakes better biscuits and when we looked at what was being offered to Jamaicans, we realised that we could also bake a better cheese snack. We wanted to offer more, and we saw an opportunity in the local market to offer our consumers a better-tasting product for a better price,” Guthrie added.
Guthrie, also speaking to growth outside the local market, mentioned that plans were also in the works to beef-up export of its products to the Caribbean and North American markets.
“Exciting times are ahead for the Butterkist snack portfolio and the team look forward to achieving dominance in this area,” he stated in a news release.
Following a fire which gutted a warehouse belonging to its parent company late last year, the additional investment, IBL believes, will help to improve productivity and reduce operational overheads. Seprod, the parent company, which is a large distribution and manufacturing conglomerate, said it has over the last five years invested over $2 billion in the local economy as it upgrades its factories and improves warehousing and manufacturing facilities. In the coming months, the company is moving to occupy a section of its new 100,000 square-foot warehouse and distribution campus, with full occupancy of the logistic centre scheduled for completion next year.
Despite setbacks from the fire which wiped out more than 85 per cent of its inventory goods, the Richard Pandohie-led company has continued to keep its business afloat as it forges ahead despite the challenges. Up to the end of December its profits stood at $2.1 billion — a 25 per cent reduction relative to the previous year.