Sat | Oct 20, 2018

Healthy boost for Tru-Juice - Trade Winds sales handled by Wisynco jump 22%

Published:Wednesday | October 10, 2018 | 12:00 AMSteven Jackson/Senior Business Reporter
A range of Tru-Juice products are displayed on shelves at the Trade Winds Citrus complex in this May 20, 2017 photo.

The maker of Tru-Juice, Trade Winds Citrus Limited, sold $3.3 billion worth of goods to exclusive distributor Wisynco Group, according to financial disclosures made by the latter company to the market.

Trade Winds is now ramping up exports with a positive outlook for year ending 2019. The company said it is projecting a 50 to 100 per cent increase in the export of Tetra pak juices for this year, but notes that the projection is coming from a small base.

"The demand for healthier options is definitely growing as juice sales have increased year on year," said Managing Director Peter McConnell.

Most of the sales booked by Wisynco - which grew by 22 per cent year on year - represent the Tru-Juice brand and some of Trade Winds' beverage brands, including Fresh and Squeezz, the juice maker explained. Wisynco is its exclusive distributor, but Trade Winds sells most of its Freshhh products to direct customers.

Tru-Juice and Freshhh are the top sellers, McConnell said, but Freshhh sales outpace that of Tru-Juice due to its lower pricing, which allows the company to target a wider tier of the market. Trade Winds other brands include Calico Jack and Wakefield.

Trade Winds sells chilled and non-chilled versions of its juices, the latter using Tetra pak packaging that McConnell said has led to an increase in export sales and opened up a new segment in the non-chilled category for Freshhh and Tru-Juice flavours. Previously, its sales to markets in the United States, United Kingdom, and the Caribbean accounted for less than 5 per cent of total sales, but the current ratio was not disclosed.

 

SIGNIFICANT POTENTIAL

 

"There seems to be significant potential in these markets, which remains to be satisfied. Initially exports in Tetra pak were slow because we only had it in the 200 ml size, but now that we have introduced the 500 ml & 1 litre package in 12 flavours, we have an attractive portfolio to offer to export customers," he said.

McConnell said the "cupboard friendly" Tetra pak packaging extends the shelf life of the juices to seven months, whereas they previously lasted for 30 to 50 days and required refrigeration.

In the chilled segment, growth has been driven mostly by the new Supa-Juice line, which is a blend of fruits and vegetables - its flavours include Green Juice, made of string beans, cucumber, callaloo, pak choi and pineapple juice; Beetroot Juice; Mango-Carrot-Ginger; and the latest Watermelon & Cucumber.

The Supa line was initially launched through restaurant partner, Island Grill. The Green & Beet juices have since been put into retail packages under the Tru-Juice brand.

"The other rewarding aspect of this new line of Supa juices is that most of the ingredients come from local farmers. It is heartwarming to see the truck and van loads of fresh vegetables being off loaded at our factory," McConnell added.

Trade Winds remains a privately held company, while Wisynco Group went public last year and listed on the Jamaica Stock Exchange in December.

Wisynco - which became the distributor for Trade Winds five years ago under a expansive deal that saw both companies becoming joint venture partners - disclosed its purchases from Trade Winds in its audited financials for year ending June 2018. It reflected double-digit rise in purchases from Trade Winds to $3.3 billion, from $2.7 billion a year earlier. That boost comes after flat performance of $2.65 billion in 2016.

Wisynco earned about 13 per cent of its $24.5 billion in revenue from distributing Trade Wind products.

"It was a combination of factors that impacted positively on growth," said Wisynco Chairman William Mahfood.

Wisynco Group acquired 50 per cent of Trade Winds in 2013, but its stake was spun off as part of a reconstitution of the Wisynco Group in preparation for listing on the Jamaica Stock Exchange. Ownership in Trade Winds is ultimately held by Fusion Holdings, a Wisynco-related company.

steven.jackson@gleanerjm.com