Mon | Dec 18, 2017

Kremi creates R&D team

Published:Friday | October 6, 2017 | 12:00 AMSteven Jackson
Christopher Clarke, CEO of Kremi/Caribbean Cream Limited.

Caribbean Cream Limited, which trades as Kremi, is testing a new peanut butter ice cream, one of several new products the company aims to bring to market.

Kremi is also taking a more streamlined focus to research and development, R&D, through the creation of a special group.

"We have formed a new product development committee and we have a few potential items on the drawing board, but it is too early to announce," said CEO Christopher Clarke at the annual general meeting, held on Wednesday.

The five-member committee will be made up of current staff from various areas of the business.

"Members will be cross-functional - people from finance, marketing, production and quality," Clarke later told the Financial Gleaner.

Kremi has a selection of 20 ice cream flavours. The new product committee will build on those flavours to enhance quality, and develop new products. Samples of the peanut butter flavour were handed out to shareholders at Wednesday's meeting and its creamy texture got initial positive feedback.

The committee will stick to new products for Caribbean Cream rather than pitching ideas to its main buyer Scoops Unlimited, a family-connected company that operates Devon House I'Scream.

Clarke said the relationship between Kremi and Scoops is "simply one of supplier and buyer", to clarify that their R&D activities are not combined.

At the Kremi plant, the company is working towards HACCP certification and part of that process involved a $100-million investment already spent this year to upgrade its warehousing space. This brings its capital expenditures to $300 million since 2014, which included upgrades to the cold room and blast freezer.

"It is the vision of Kremi to become the number one ice cream company in the Caribbean and that simply can't happen without being HACCP certified," Clarke said. "We installed the necessary infrastructure, so now is the time to start the process."

Kremi currently owns and operates three depots located between Montego Bay and Kingston. The company makes bulk ice cream products and frozen novelties.

Kremi remains optimistic on its outlook, subject to bad weather, which affected its first-quarter sales.

Sales grew by one per cent to $319 million in the first quarter ending May 2017. Profit was sliced in half from $71 million to $35 million year-on-year. Explaining the weather impact on sales, Clarke said Kremi's street-side bike distributors remain indoors during rainfall, while customers tend to avoid cold drinks during inclement weather.

In the past three years, starting shortly after going public and listing on the Jamaica Stock Exchange, Kremi's annual sales hit the billion-dollar mark and set a new record of $1.2 billion in the last period.

steven.jackson@gleanerjm.com