Geddes Grant, Seprod producing almond milk in Jamaica
T. Geddes Grant Distributors and Seprod have become the first local companies to manufacture almond milk, arising from an expanded partnership with the American owners of the Naturally Almond brand.
Seprod will make the product at its Serge Island Dairies plant, while T. Geddes will handle distribution. Both local companies are affiliated through the Musson Jamaica Group.
Managing Director of T. Geddes Grant Michael Subratie says the company will be distributing the product locally as well as to other Caricom markets. The Jamaican company inked a deal with JEC Aseptics, the US-based owners of the Naturally Almond brand, a few years ago and began test runs with Seprod in 2015.
"All of the almond milk in Jamaica is currently imported. This will actually be made here and the price point will actually be about 10-12 per cent below what the consumer now pays for the imported stuff," Subratie said.
The arrangement flows from the American company's plan to expand in the region, according to Subratie, who said Naturally Almond has become the market leader in less than five years in Puerto Rico.
Naturally Almond has been on the shelves of select distributors since January but now will now see a wider roll-out, starting next week, he added.
"After months of testing and modifications, the Serge Island team, in collaboration with JEC Aseptics, was able to capture the perfect blend being the exact replica of the one made and sold in the US," Subratie said.
The first production run was completed and passed in November 2016, he said.
Naturally Almond is available in four flavours - original, vanilla, original unsweetened and vanilla unsweetened. A chocolate version will be added later this year.
In Jamaica, unit sales of the almond milk for February was up 24 per cent over the previous month, said the T. Geddes Grant boss, who is also a director of Musson Jamaica.
Almond milk is the fastest-growing non-dairy milk category in Jamaica, he said, citing market data, while noting that top retailers are reporting 15 per cent growth year-over-year.
"The reason for that is that is its appeal to the health conscious. Almond milk has 50 per cent more calcium than dairy milk," he said.
T. Geddes Grant has set eyes on regional markets such as Barbados, Trinidad "and others" for exports.
Raw material for the product is imported from California.
"We bring in the raw almonds, they (Seprod) crush it and make the milk," Subratie said.