Business

GraceKennedy opens US$5-m facility in New Jersey

BY KELLARAY MILES
Business reporter
milesk@jamaicaobserver.com

Friday, October 11, 2019

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The GraceKennedy (GK) Group has taken another step forward in becoming a global consumer group when on Monday, it opened its brand-new Grace/LaFe facility in Woodbridge, New Jersey.

In a release on Wednesday, it was noted that the facility cost the company approximately US$5 million but will drive increased operating facilities and reduce costs, while having the teams centrally located under one roof.

GK Group CEO Don Wehby, at the opening, noted the company's 97-year history and its global aspirations.

“To realise this vision of becoming a global consumer group, we determined that we needed to have our own company in the US, because of the size and potential of this market. In doing our due diligence we recognised that there is closeness and many similarities between the Jamaican and other Caribbean islands, and the Latin American cultures,” he said.

“Both have a unique spirit and passion that translates to every aspect of our lives. Family values are paramount and we share a real passion for good food. In fact, food is an integral part of all our celebrations. We were able to find a great match in the La Fe brand being a strong Hispanic brand and this journey started in 2013. Since then, both the Grace and La Fe brands have experienced significant growth year-on-year,” he continued.

Andrea Coy, GK International Foods CEO, advised that the US$5 million invested facilitated the construction of a custom-built 125,000-square foot facility. This features a modern layout which is fully compliant with all health and safety requirements.

“This facility will enable us to better serve our loyal partners and customers, which is of paramount importance to us,” she added.

Professor Gordon Shirley, who serves as chairman at GK, also expressed his pleasure at seeing the team transition to this new space.

“We have the best and brightest young people working to grow the Grace and La Fe brands, and I am confident we will see the returns on our investment, achieved through our most important investment — human capital,” he said.

A proud Wehby expressed that he firmly believes GK USA has the potential to be the number one or two Hispanic brand in the USA.

“If we stay the course, increase our efficiencies and focus on innovation, together we can achieve this goal. This business is of critical importance to our vision of becoming a global consumer group. We have operated this company for over five years and since inception, I have said that our GK USA operations, through our Grace and La Fe brands, will be a game-changer for the GK group,” he said.


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