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Tortuga to expand product lines on relocation to Kingston

Published:Friday | February 26, 2016 | 12:00 AMTameka Gordon

Cake maker Tortuga International Holdings Limited, a subsidiary of Jamaica Producers Group, plans to expand its product line when it moves to its new bakery, likely by midyear.

Tortuga CEO Marcus Simmonds said the plant is being outfitted with new baking equipment.

"While the goal is mostly to be able to operate more efficiently, the new facility will allow us to be more creative and innovative," Simmonds told the Financial Gleaner.

The company is mulling ideas for "a lot of new rum cake and cake products," the CEO said.

The cake maker, which previously operated from Montego Bay, is set to increase its output tenfold with the relocation to a bigger and more modern facility on Retirement Road in Kingston - a US$1-million investment.

Simmonds was cautious about a precise date for the new plant to become operational, but eventually said that by the end of June, "we should be materially close, if not baking out of that facility".

"We are on a very aggressive schedule to get this done by quarter two," he said.

With the new plant, Tortuga will operate two 12-hour shifts, "so we have access to capacity in which we can come out with any kind of new products," Simmonds added.

Retrofitting of the leased space is well under way, he said.

The company, this week, advertised most of its baking equipment and other assets for sale via auction. Auctioneers CD Alexander is handling the disposal of the items, which include a 20-foot trailer, a 20-foot container, music and security systems, pasteuriser machine and freezers.

Simmonds, however, said the company is not depending on the proceeds of sales to offset the retrofitting of its new base.

"The equipment that we are getting rid of could not be used in the facility. It could not possibly meet the specs," he said. "What you see there is just us trying to realise value for our disposal of assets".

At nearly 15,000 square feet, the Retirement Road plant will have speed-baking lines, and warehousing, distribution and administrative facilities.

Tortuga will have the capacity to produce and distribute up to two million pounds of rum cake annually.

With the added capacity, Tortuga plans to sell more products overseas in St Thomas and St Martin, as well as Spanish-speaking Caribbean territories.

The cake maker also operates manufacturing facilities in the Cayman Islands and Barbados.