Upgrade for Chocolate Walk factory set for completion in May – JP
JP Tropical Foods Ltd, subsidiary of Jamaica Producers Group (JP), has announced plans to double banana production for the back-to-school season. Beginning in September 2017, it will make more of the fresh fruit available to students.
Banana farming is JP’s major business with some 700 acres in production, which represents 25 per cent of the market share.
Starting in 2016, JP Tropical has planned spend of approximately US$1.4 million over two years to upgrade its facilities.
The company will be commissioning a state-of-the art pineapple-packing facility by mid-May at its Chocolate Walk factory in St Mary so as to make fresh pineapple easily available for snacking, JP outlined in a release on its plans.
David Martin, CEO of JP Tropical Foods, said the company will be tapping into the school market following trends in other Caribbean islands.
"In other countries of the Caribbean, as well as Central America and Europe where we do business, we are seeing a number of strategies being introduced by schools and parents to drive healthy eating and, in particular, healthy snacking among students. Therefore, we cannot allow Jamaica to fall behind in this trend."
The company will be pouring funds into complimentary marketing.
JP Tropical will launch a campaign targeted at young Jamaicans, aimed at helping them to "understand the importance of a nutritional diet that supports growing minds and bodies", the company outlined.
The company is also investing in pineapple cultivation, harvesting and packaging.
"The growth in production by late summer will come from improved yields and growing practices, as well as expanded acreage. As a result, we will be employing 308 persons to operate across 456 acres of banana and pineapple cultivations," Martin said.
Danielle Barnett, administrative and quality manager for JP Farms, indicated that the farm was granted ISO certification for quality and environmental standards.
"Unlike some imported produce, customers can be assured that JP’s products are free from pesticide residue," she said.
JP’s flagship St Mary Banana chips is the market leader, the company points out. It is produced in the parish of St Mary, Jamaica, as well as in the Dominican Republic, and sold in eight countries. The largest market for chips, however, is in Jamaica, the company outlined.
In 85 years JP has focused on growing bananas, but diversified to include the production of pineapple, coconut, cassava, and sweet potatoes. The company has targeted more than 200 acres of land to be cultivated for an increase in pineapple production and make the fruit available throughout the year.