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Jamaica Beverages to increase dairy line

Published:Sunday | July 10, 2016 | 12:00 AMTameka Gordon
The Dairy Farmers line of milks made by Jamaica Beverage Limited.

Trinidadian parent SM Jaleel is in dialogue with local dairy farmers to increase the supply of milk to its St Catherine-based Jamaica Beverages Limited plant amid planned expansion of its dairy line.

In January, Jamaica Beverages outsourced its distribution operations and shuttered the Naggo Head plant in Portmore under a restructuring programme but has maintained the manufacturing of its line of dairy and juice products at Bog Walk.

Now, there are plans "to increase capacity" of the dairy line, the company told Sunday Business via email. It said discussions have been under way over the last few months with the dairy farmers to supply more fresh cow's milk to the beverage company but declined to give greater details about what the plans entailed.

Jamaica Beverages manufactures the Dairy Farmers line as well as juices under the Juciful brand. It has rights to the Juciful name under licence from the Jamaica Citrus Growers Association.

The Trinidad-owned company's supplies of milk come from a network of farmers in Clarendon, St Catherine, and St Ann.

On average, the company takes about 40,000 litres of milk, but this past June some 120,000 litres was supplied by the farmers, according to CEO of the Dairy Development Board Hugh Graham.

"This is the highest amount they have processed," Graham said. The increased volume reflects a push by dairy farmers to ramp up production and supply to the beverage company," Graham said.

The Dairy Board is backing the farmers with technical assistance to ensure better herd management and to implement systems for quality control.

"The obligation on the farmers is to increase their production and to maintain quality," he said.

Following the Jamaica Beverages' announcement of the restructuring, the company's acting general manager, Paul Shoucair, left the company in March. Pressed on Shoucair's successor, SM Jaleel said the current management team of Naim Khan, Abdul Salam, and Richard Bailey will lead the reshaping of the operations.

All three managers are based at the Bog Walk plant in St Catherine.

Jamaica Beverages has operated in Jamaica since 1998, with the Naggo Head Industrial Complex in Portmore as its main base up to the recent reorganisation of the business. It also had a distribution centre at the Montego Bay Free Zone, which was shuttered in October 2014.

The increased production is aimed at tapping export markets in the Caribbean and Central and South America, Jamaica Beverages said. The company also plans to introduce a long-life tetra pak or aseptic line of box milk.