Sabrina Gordon, Business Reporter
Taps Caribbean markets for rebranded flavoured water
Wisynco Group will lose no more than four per cent of annual revenue from its cancelled Ocean Spray partnership, but Managing Director William Mahfood says he will make it up from overseas sales of its previously co-branded flavoured water now that he is no longer barred from exports.
Wisynco has already rebranded the product to CranWATA, and began distribution in two Caribbean islands.
And that for Mahfood is the upside from losing the Ocean Spray distribution contract to Pepsi Jamaica. The official switchover occurred on September 1.
"Actually, we will get a benefit because one we don't have to pay the licence fees, we don't have the restrictions on export and also in terms of product development and label design, so we no longer have any restrictions being placed on us," he told the Financial Gleaner this week.
"We had an agreement which says we could not export; Ocean Spray took away that ability from us," he explained.
Wisynco for almost two decades sold Ocean Spray's juices, and sold its own flavoured water under the Ocean Spray WATA brands. At one point, there was talk of building an Ocean Spray factory in Jamaica as cranberry juice sales bloomed, but the project never got off the ground.
Ocean Spray's products have a high level of penetration domestically and are reportedly to be found in about 95 per cent of grocery channels.
Still, Mahfood said the loss of the business has created no issues with unutilised capacity at Wisynco's St Catherine complex.
"There is no effect on productive capacity, and because we will now have the ability to export and develop new flavours, I think we will produce more," he said.
Wisynco manages a portfolio of about 4,000 products represented by 110 international brands.
It hopes to make up lost juice revenue by refocusing on product lines, such as Welch's, which Mahfood said is currently growing at 50 per cent, and other brands.
"The new products coming on stream in the next couple of months will also more than make up the loss revenue in Ocean Spray juice business," said Mahfood.
They include, he said, a 100 per cent Minute Maid juice in a range of flavours.
Wisynco started distributing Ocean Spray juices about 18 years ago, then later entered into a licensing agreement with the American owner, which allowed the local beverage company to produce cranberry-flavoured water.
Wisynco's Ocean Spray Wata products, which was first launched in 2008, has four flavours: cranberry, white cranberry, cranberry-strawberry, and cranberry-grape, which the company said captures over 60 per cent of the local flavoured-water market.
Mahfood is banking on brand and product loyalty to maintain market share for the rebranded products.
"The conversion was easy for us. We made amendment to the labels, expanded the Wata logo and the design, but most consumers will continue to see the product. It's still Wata and people are still going to be attached to the product - we are still seeing a strong attachment to it," said Mahfood.
He will have to contend with rivalry from the Ocean Spray brand, which now has its own flavoured water on the local market called Flavour Delight. The product was launched by Pepsi Jamaica on the eve of its takeover of the Ocean Spray contract.
CranWATA is already being sold in the Cayman Island and Barbados.
"Now that the partnership is dissolved, we have tremendous opportunity for new flavours. We also have the ability to go to Trinidad, to Puerto Rico, and sell these products where there have been a lot of demand over the years for them," he said.
Wisynco recently announced a US$6-million investment to upgrade its manufacturing capacity and facilities at White Marl from one million bottles per day to 10 million bottles per day, by the end of next year, to facilitate product expansion.
Wisynco manufactures beverages and synthetics and operates food franchises in the quick-service sector.