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Lasco gives consumer less for less - Produces smaller food drink for Jamaicans

Published:Wednesday | October 1, 2014 | 12:00 AM
File Lasco chairman, Lascelles Chin.

Tameka Gordon, Business Reporter

In response to consumer demand for more economical products, amid stagnant wages and declining disposable income, Lasco Manufacturing Limited will introduce a smaller-size food drink packet, said chairman Lascelles Chin.

The new drink comes within a mix of new products that Lasco is now introducing at its newly expanded plant at White Marl in St Catherine.

Speaking at Wednesday's annual general meeting, Chin said since the company "caters to the poor", it sees the need to put a cheaper food drink on the market, but must make smaller packages of the soy-based product in order to maintain its cost effectiveness.

The new packet, weighing 80 grammes, will sell for $100. The 120-gram packet currently sells for about $150, while the 500-gram packet sells for around $460.

"A lot of people are complaining now that Lasco food drink is very expensive. Before, because they are getting good value for money, the complaints weren't there - although we had to increase the price after every devaluation," Chin told the meeting.

He said the company will not cut the quality of its input in order to meet the new demand, but will instead carve the savings from less serving per package. The new products will only be sold in Jamaica, he said, as the regular product continues to well overseas.

Distribution concerns

Locally, "we thought the wholesalers and the retailers would have a problem having two sizes, but the retailers tell us they can manage," said the Lasco chairman.

"The wholesalers might have a problem, but we will see how we manage there," he said, noting that the company would iron out any kinks in distribution as they arise.

Among many other product types, Lasco Manufacturing's line of dry beverage mixes include Lasco Foods Drinks, LaSoy Lactose Free, porridge mixes, whole milk, as well as Readi Milk.

Total sales for the company in 2013 rose 10 per cent to top $4 billion.

Lasco has also introduced a line of flavoured water and juice drinks aimed both at the local and overseas markets, made possible by the added production capacity at the newly commissioned liquid plant.

The manufacturing operation believes it can double sales over "the next two to three years", said Chin, owing to the newly added liquid plant.

"I have decided to be in the liquid business ... . We are going after at least 10 per cent of the $20 billion industry," Chin told shareholders.

The company is targeting sales of one million cases, but did not give a timeline for this objective to be met.

"The water is already in the market, and the cranwater and juice drinks have just entered, so in the next two weeks, you will see much more in all the outlets," said the chairman.

Lasco has introduced a line of cranberry- and strawberry-flavoured water, as well a fruit punch and tangerine juice drink, with others to come, including "many more powdered products", Chin told the meeting.