Business

Ocean Spray still reigns in Jamaica

BY JULIAN RICHARDSON Assistant Business Co-ordinator richardsonj@jamaicaobserver.com

Friday, September 21, 2012    

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JAMAICA'S love affair with Ocean Spray remains passionate, says its US maker, despite claims from the brand's former bottler that the romance was cooling.

The island is Ocean Spray's top per-capita market, with annual volumes exceeding a million cases, says the US fruit beverages manufacturer.

"I can tell you, as I am the person responsible for (the data), that our sales have been robust here in Jamaica," said John Kaczynski, business development manager at Ocean Spray Cranberries.

"Jamaica has remained, and we expect will continue to be, the number one per-capita consumption country in the world," Kaczynski said at the launch of Pepsi's exclusive distributorship of Ocean Spray products in Jamaica. "Our business sells well in excess of a million cases a year and our sales and innovation are as strong as ever."

Kaczynski was responding to questions on whether volumes of Ocean Spray's beverages had fallen off significantly over the last several years as purported by the company's former local distributor, Wisynco.

Pepsi and Ocean Spray signed a strategic alliance in January which gives Pepsi exclusive rights for a term of 20 years over a portfolio of Ocean Spray cranberry- and blueberry-based drinks throughout its Latin America Beverages Division, which includes Jamaica.

The deal in effect ended Wisynco's 18-year distributorship of Ocean Spray juices in the country.

The partnership with Pepsi better positions Ocean Spray to grow its business in the region, Kaczynski said at the launch in the Wyndham Kingston hotel, on Wednesday.

"Pepsi Latin America is an entity that does business in over 40 Latin American countries, Jamaica being one of them," he said. "Pepsi offers us worldwide presence to expand into other parts of Latin America where we don't have the distribution or sales like we have in Jamaica."

Ocean Spray is also encouraged by Pepsi Jamaica's US$10 million ($895 million) upgrade of its Kingston plant. The expansion project has allowed Pepsi Jamaica to increase output by more than 30 per cent and boost turnaround times, said Carlo Redwood, Pepsi Jamaica's marketing manager.

"It has already begun reaping rewards for us in the marketplace," said Redwood.

Ocean Spray will also benefit from Pepsi's existing distribution network, which is the largest in Jamaica, Redwood said.

"We will be using this to expand the growth of Ocean Spray to our customers, who have been briefed (about the partnership) through meetings that we have had over the last couple of weeks," he said.

Pepsi also highlighted its intention to penetrate the growing flavoured-water business in Jamaica with an Ocean Spray-branded product, Flavour Splash.

Flavour Splash will compete with Wisynco's CranWata, the market leader, which previously carried the Ocean Spray brand.

"Our new line of flavoured water has been met with a stamp of approval from our customers across the island," said Redwood. "Through Ocean Spray, the experts in cranberry, comes a flavoured water that has more cranberry flavour than any other product on the market."

Minister of Industry, Investment and Commerce Anthony Hylton said the partnership augurs well for a boost in exports of non-alcoholic beverages, which earned US$3.9 million in 2011.

"This is a strategic alliance which clearly demonstrates a forward-thinking and prudent business strategy on the part of both parties. It opens up the market, offers the consumer a wide array of beverage options, and positions the companies to extend their market reach," said Hylton.

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