Mon | Aug 21, 2017

Liquid Eggs company buys layer operation, snags hotel contracts

Published:Wednesday | August 9, 2017 | 8:00 AMAvia Collinder
Damion Crawford, managing director of Convenience Foods Liquid Eggs.

Crafton Holdings, which trades as Convenience Foods Liquid Eggs, is increasing production as it secures new contracts in the hotel and baking sectors.

Since starting deliveries in December 2016, Convenience Foods said it has scored supply contracts from bakery company Tortuga, Jamaica Biscuit Company, the Sandals Resorts group of hotels and Hilton Rose Hall.

It is also in negotiations with retailer PriceSmart Jamaica, and school meal provider Nutrition Products Limited.

Convenience Foods Managing Director Damion Crawford told Gleaner Business that he expects production to increase by 33 per cent by Christmas, which is the peak of the baking season.

The factory processes 200 cases of pasteurised eggs weekly. Each case contains four one-gallon bottles of liquid eggs.

To meet its new supply commitments, Convenience Foods has purchased and put into operation its own egg farm in Rosend, St Mary. The farm currently produces 17 crates of shell eggs per day.

"We will be introducing 12,000 layers that are due to start laying soon, which will further increase supply," said Convenience Foods Operations Manager Camille Atkinson.

Crafton Holdings launched into the liquid eggs business after purchasing the assets of Caribbean Egg Processors Limited, a former joint venture between Caribbean Producers Jamaica and the Jamaica Egg Farmers Association-owned Liquid Eggs Limited. CPJ exited the partnership in 2015.

Crafton bought all the machinery.

Crawford said that "almost $100 million" has been invested to date in the factory and farm which, he adds, should take around seven years to recoup.

Atkinson said much of the investment to date was in the form of cash from a silent partner. The company is now seeking a loan from EXIM Bank Jamaica to buy more machinery and meet inventory costs.

In the meantime, shell eggs for Convenience Foods' processing plant are supplemented by supplies from the Jamaica Egg Farmers Association. President of JEFA, Roy Baker, told Gleaner Business that the operation was in its "teething stage" and that he expected Convenience Foods to eventually "move heavily into export".

For now, however, Atkinson said the company is concentrating on supplying the local market. She says Sandals is taking nearly half of what the company produces each week.

Crawford said the company currently employs 12 at the factory and 14 on the farm, and will add two workers to meet the pressures of the coming Christmas season.

Crafton Holdings is owned 51 per cent by Damion Crawford and 49 per cent by Benton Woodbine of St Catherine, according to Companies Office records.

avia.collinder@gleanerjm.com