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Jamaica Beverages exits distribution

Published:Wednesday | January 13, 2016 | 1:00 AMNeville Graham

Jamaica Beverages Limited has outsourced its local distribution operations and is locking down its Naggo Head plant in Portmore, St Catherine, under a restructuring programme that sees the Trinidad-owned company scaling back in Jamaica after close to two decades.

However, Jamaica Beverages, led by acting general manager, Paul Shoucair, will continue its manufacturing operations at Bog Walk, St Catherine, where it produces Juciful juices and milks under licence, as well as Fruta juice drink. The latter brand is produced under agreement with parent company SM Jaleel.

The reorganisation, confirmed by SM Jaleel, marks the company's full exit from distribution in Jamaica, a process that began last year.

The beverage maker previously outsourced distribution of its carton-packaged Fruta juice drink and Juciful juices to Derrimon Trading Company in early 2015, and recently signed GraceKennedy, World Brand Services, and Massy Distribution Jamaica as distribution partners for its other product lines. World Brand Services is part of the GraceKennedy family.

GraceKennedy will distribute Viva water and Chubby drink lines, while Massy will sell tetra pak and tinned Fruta, Kool Kidz and Tampico drinks, according to documentation seen by Wednesday Business.

"We take note that SM Jaleel has made a strategic decision to concentrate on manufacturing, and in doing so, they have opted for a strong brand like GK Foods to do the distribution in Jamaica," said Andrea Coy, CEO of GK Foods Jamaica. "We are excited at the prospects, and we look forward to a future that has opportunities for growth," she said.

SM Jaleel & Company/

Jamaica Beverages has operated in Jamaica since 1998 mainly from the Naggo Head Industrial Complex in Portmore. It also had a distribution centre at Montego Bay Free Zone, which was shuttered in October 2014.

News of the company's contraction comes only one month after two management hires at the Naggo Head plant - Human Resources Manager Carron Bryan and Financial Officer Vinette Hurge. Both have survived the restructuring, according to Shoucair, who said they are to be redeployed.

The plant closure is expected to cut 100 jobs, but Shoucair says Jamaica Beverages is trying to find new job placements for as many of the workers as possible.

However, the company is yet to determine what to do with the plant and its assets.

"The assets definitely won't remain idle," said Shoucair. "Exactly what will be done is a decision from Head Office, but I can say it won't remain idle."

The CEO of Derrimon Trading, Derrick Cotterell, confirms that his company has been distributing Juciful and Fruta since April 2015.

"We've found this to be a very beneficial partnership in that it means that the old Juciful factory can continue to operate and save Jamaican jobs. We continue to strengthen the partnership and grow the business," Cotterell said.

Jamaica Beverages acquired the assets of the Citrus Growers Association in 2012 and since then has been producing Juciful under licence. The brand is owned by the citrus growers.

The Juciful complex has four sections: a juice manufacturing plant; a feed mill that converts the concentrate by-products to animal feed; a chill juice plant; and a milk processing plant, which produces whole milk and flavoured milk products.

A press statement sent by SM Jaleel that confirmed the reorganisation noted that in 2015 Jamaica Beverages purchased and processed five million pounds of citrus from Jamaican farmers that was used in drink manufacturing and in the production of concentrate for export markets. The company also purchases more than 768,000 litres of milk annually from dairy farmers in Clarendon, St Catherine and St Ann. the company said will be used in drink manufacturing and in the production of concentrate for export markets.

neville.graham@gleanerjm.com