Juciful still on the market, says trustee
Wilfred Baghaloo, the trustee tasked with restructuring Jamaica Beverages Limited, says the company has been able to keep its brands on the market, including Juciful, notwithstanding challenges sourcing fresh fruit for the processing plant.
The shortage of fruit has not impacted the scale of the operation, the trustee insisted.
Jamaica Beverages, which is owned by Trinidad-based SM Jaleel, sought bankruptcy protection to restructure after an adverse court judgement won by one of its creditors.
"We continue to manufacture under the existing agreement," Baghaloo told Gleaner Business.
That was a reference to the deal struck with the owner of the Juciful brand Jamaica Citrus Growers Association, four years ago. Jamaica Beverages pays royalty amounting to two per cent of sales per year to the citrus association for use of the brand.
Like other beverage makers facing the same shortage of fresh fruit, Jamaica Beverages is now more reliant on imported concentrate to keep the juices rolling off the assembly line.
"The local market is unable to supply the minimum batch quantities required to meet the minimum production cycle," Baghaloo said, confirming that the factory located at Bog Walk in St Catherine ceased processing local fruit during the 2016 crop year. They were only able to source 30,000 to 40,000 boxes of fresh fruit, whereas the factory needed 1.2 million boxes.
Alongside Juciful, Jamaica Beverages also produces drinks on behalf of its parent for local distribution, including Fruta.
Baghaloo said all aspects of the operation continue. But he otherwise noted that the company no longer supplies Pepsi Jamaica with processed grapefruit, which is used to make the soft drink Ting.
"The grapefruit crop has gone down. We cannot get required quantity to run minimum batch size," he said.
Jamaica Beverages' products have traditionally included fruit squash, fruit juices, ginger beer, sorrel, cherry malt, egg nog, peanut punch, milk, fruit concentrate and fruit puree.
In addition to Juciful and Fruta, it also packages the Jamaycus, Dairy Farmers, Pride of Jamaica and Jus Water brands.