Fri | Dec 15, 2017

GraceKennedy closer to locally manufactured corned beef

Published:Sunday | September 10, 2017 | 12:00 AM
Wehby.

Less than six months after Don Wehby, Group CEO of GraceKennedy, challenged the Innovation team at Grace Foods to revisit the possibility of a locally made corned beef, the company is reporting promising signs.

Wehby started to explore the possibility of locally made corned beef in response to disruption in supplies caused by a ban by the Jamaican Government on imports of meat products from Brazil.

"It is still early days yet, but prototypes have been developed and we are seeing that it is possible to manufacture a corned beef product at our meat factory in Westmoreland," said Wehby.

He added that while the project team has found that the capability exists within GraceKennedy and its supply chain to produce corned beef in Jamaica, it will take some time to arrive at a marketable product.

According to Wehby, the main challenges to the feasibility of the product are consistent supply of beef locally, as well as production costs.

"The pricing structure is being looked at as well. We have to find the right balance to make it affordable to our consumers and with the same high-quality standards of all our products. There would be a problem with steady supply of beef, given current local stock," added Wehby.

He said growth in beef cattle rearing could help assure a supply of beef for a range of new locally manufactured products.

"Although, at this time, the cattle stock is not very extensive, we cannot simply write off the idea of manufacturing beef products on this scale. We have to be forward thinking and consider the spin-offs that are possible from increased cattle stock and a more developed cattle industry.

"I think we should revisit this aspect of our agriculture programme in order to give ourselves more options for future opportunities," said Wehby.

Jamaica, which imports 99 per cent of its corned beef from Brazil, imposed a ban on the canned processed meat, but this was lifted after a report from a technical team which visited the Brazilian plants, which supply the local market, found their operations consistent with international best practices.

Three Caribbean territories are among the markets still closed to Brazilian-produced pork and poultry in the wake of a rotten-meat scandal that threatened to derail the economy of the world's largest exporter of chicken meat and fourth-largest producer of pork.