Red Stripe's return two years in the making
Chairman of Red Stripe Richard Byles said it took two years to take back the production of Red Stripe beer for the international market to Jamaica. He said this happened due to several factors.
"We've done a lot of, plant improvements here," he said, noting the efforts of the previous managing director, Cedric Blair and his team. "Second, it has been made possible because two years ago, the Government levelled the playing field for taxation on alcoholic beverages." Byles said production and sales have risen substantially since then, making the plant even more efficient."And third ... Jamaica is a more competitive country on the world market today than it was two to three years ago," he said. "It's taken a lot of sacrifice by Jamaican people, but here is one of the fruits of that sacrifice, that we can bring back the production of beer for the US market, millions and millions of cases."
Managing Director Ricardo Nuncio said one of the key effects of the move is to provide jobs. It is expected that approximately 300 extra jobs will be available at Red Stripe, with another 3,000 indirect jobs through spin-off industries, particularly in cassava production. Byles also noted parent company Heineken's US$500-million investment into Jamaica.
Metry Seaga, president of the Jamaica Manufacturers' Association, felt the occasion celebrated the strength and success of the Jamaican manufacturing sector and celebrates Brand Jamaica.
"Today represents a significant moment, not only for Red Stripe, but for the nation's manufacturing sector, demonstrative of an essential cog in the pursuit of economic growth and development," he said. "It also underscores our renewed commitment to producing authentic Jamaican commodities."
Seaga felt the repatriation could help fuel economic resurgence and expansion and increased employment. He noted Red Stripe's place in Jamaican society and lauded the company's continued contribution to the productivity growth in the island.
"I am sure that the manufacturing sector will continue to benefit from your positive contributions," President of the American Chamber of Commerce of Jamaica, Ron McKay, said he recalled that over the years, Jamaica has lost much of its manufacturing sector.
"So to see someone coming back to Jamaica instead of just buying a brand of Jamaica ... to me is very admirable," he said. "Thank you very much for bringing back those jobs." Nuncio said the repatriation would also bring the authenticity of the brand back to Jamaica and would see an increase of investment in the country to keep the competitiveness high. He also pointed to the positive effect on domestic cassava production.
"Bringing the US volumes back will make this even a bigger initiative and will allow us to really reap the benefits," he said. Nuncio said that to meet the demand, production of cassava would move from 18,000 tonnes to approximately 50,000.
"Over the past five years, the company has invested over J$5 billion to make all of these projects a reality," he said. "So now, we're in a position to be much more competitive and ensure the quality, the cost and the requirements that the US market needs, so we can do it from home." He opined that there is a huge opportunity for Red Stripe globally.