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Seprod subsidiary getting back into cheesy snacks

Published:Wednesday | February 23, 2022 | 4:55 AM

International Biscuits Limited, IBL, is getting back into the production of cheese-flavoured products, amid changing preference in the snacks market.

The company is investing $170 million to repurpose about 2,000 square feet of former storage space to put in a new extruded cheese snack line that will be putting out five new products in the first instance.

IBL, which is owned by the Seprod Group, at one time produced cheese products, according to General Manager Howard Guthrie, but exited to concentrate on what was seen then as more profitable lines.

“We detected that there is a switch in consumer preference from sweet snacks to salty snacks. In addition, based on what is presently in the market we know that we can offer a better quality cheese snack to consumers,” Guthrie said.

IBL presently contributes just over $1 billion to the Seprod Group’s top line, and the cheesy snacks are expected to boost revenue by 20-25 per cent, he said.

He adds that two key ingredients in the new product line effectively establishes backward linkages in the Seprod Group – the cornmeal comes from Jamaica Grains and the oil comes from Caribbean Products, both of which are Seprod subsidiaries.

The new production line will have 30-35 workers operating on two eight-hour shifts. A third shift will be added in time. Guthrie says the production crew members are being drawn from other sections of the business, and will be working more days and taking home bigger pay cheques.

“With the introduction of this snack line, they are working five days per week. That was a major concern for them as they could not continuously earn a decent sum to feed their families,” he said.

The local snacks market carries a diverse range of cheese-flavoured snacks, both locally made and imported, and supplied by companies such as National Bakery and Sunshine Snacks out of Trinidad & Tobago and various distributors.

IBL will be offering a range of cheese curls and sticks.

“We will be in supermarkets, wholesale, convenience stores and down trade such as vendors,” Guthrie says.

IBL currently manufactures biscuit brands such as Ovaltine, Pic Nix, Butterkist Sandwich Cookies, Parrot Cookies and Snackables.