Thu | Aug 17, 2017

$1.25b of confidence - Trade Winds gears up to take market share from imports

Published:Wednesday | May 31, 2017 | 5:00 AMSteven Jackson
Prime Minister Andrew Holness examines an array of Tru-Juice drinks during a tour of the Trade Winds Citrus factory at Bog Walk, St Catherine on yesterday. Trade Winds Managing Director Peter McConnell is at left.

Trade Winds Citrus Limited showed off a new production line on Tuesday that caps $1.25 billion of investment in Tetra Pak packaging over three years.

The beverage company says it's now in a better position to displace juice imports.

The investment will allow Trade Winds to distribute juices that can stay on the shelf for up to seven months. That compares with the traditional two weeks for its chilled juices, managers indicated.

Trade Winds currently produces juices and juice drinks under its Tru-Juice, Wakefield, Freshhh, Squeezz, and Tru-Tea brands, as well as a rum punch under the label Calico Jack.

"These new products will take up shelf space currently occupied by imports. It is our intention to replace all of them," Managing Director Peter McConnell said during a tour of the Bog Walk, St Catherine, factory by Prime Minister Andrew Holness and other officials.

The new production line will also allow the company to manufacture dairy products, starting before year end. Trade Winds will initially import dry milk powder for the new product line, through joint-venture partner Wisynco Group, until its able to produce its own milk from a farm to be established at the Bog Walk property.

The company, in March 2017, commissioned its second Tetra Pak line, which produces eight Tru-Juice flavours in 200-millilitre, 500ml and 1 litre sizes. Another six flavours will come on stream in the coming months.

Trade Winds introduced its first tetra pak production line in August 2014 in the 200ml format, a size specifically targeted at children. Based on the "positive" response, the company decided to add a second line.

 

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"There are limitations on where chilled juices can be sold on a sustainable basis because of the challenges with chilled space in retail outlets and restaurants. Now that we have invested in the technology that can provide good-quality juices that do not require refrigeration for distribution and storage, the company expects to achieve much greater market penetration," said McConnell.

With the expansion, Trade Winds says around 24 jobs will be created, and that the full workforce across the company currently stands at around 855.

"This investment should demonstrate our confidence in the Jamaican economy," McConnell said.

PM Holness said in agreement that the investment would increase employment in the medium term and assist in growing the economy.

"Economic growth doesn't take place in the public space. For anyone to invest $1 billion is a lot of money and shows confidence," the prime minister said.

McConnell said the Tru-Juice line of Tetra Pak products offers "no difference in the taste experience" between the Tetra Pak and traditional chilled juices.

Trade Winds currently exports to the United States, United Kingdom, Cayman Islands, and Barbados. McConnell said the added volumes from the expansion would allow the company to target additional export markets.

steven.jackson@gleanerjm.com