KINGSTON, Jamaica, Thursday July 6, 2017 – Business is booming for GraceKennedy subsidiary, GK Foods and Services Limited, and it’s ready to expand its offerings in North America and the United Kingdom.
The company this week announced plans to open its sixth manufacturing plant in Jamaica to meet increasing demands from the overseas markets.
According to Chief Executive Officer of GraceKennedy Limited, Don Wehby, the 60,000-square-foot facility in Denbigh, Clarendon, would produce a range of conveniently portioned and packaged locally grown fruits and vegetables primarily for export markets. The new plant will also be used for further processing of locally grown products into value-added finished goods.
“I am pleased that we can now officially put this well-placed facility to productive use. This plant, our sixth manufacturing plant in Jamaica, will be another channel for farmers to supply goods that are in high demand in North American and UK markets,” he said.
Wehby added that some 70 people will be hired to work at the new facility, which will feature a specialized agro-processing production line that will be augmented with equipment and fully commissioned by mid-2018.
GraceKennedy added in a statement that a total of $215 million will be spent on the acquisition of agro-processing equipment, installing blast-freezing capability, refurbishing and upgrading the facility and property, implementing a waste water management system, and funding product research and development.
The company currently exports pepper mash to the United States, Europe, and the Caribbean, and also supplies local agro-processors from the Grace Agro Processors Division (GAP) based in St Elizabeth.
Through its Farmers’ Assistance and Seedlings programmes, GAP helped reverse devastating shortages in the supply of chili pepper caused by droughts in 2014 and 2015. Instead of importing pepper mash, the division has emerged as an exporter of pepper mash, producing more than 1,350 metric tonnes of pepper and scallion in 2016 and exporting 155 metric tonnes.
“We continue to look for ways to deepen our relationship with farmers across Jamaica as we develop new initiatives to absorb their supplies, incentivize productivity, and promote employment opportunities,” Wehby said.