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Food & Beverage

Sawh’s Bee Hiving Enterprise - Bajans Bee Happy

What do bees, beauty and good health have in common? It’s that sweet little substance called honey. From medicine, to beauty supplies, to hair products our local honey bees are making a big sting. Truth be told, when we think of our local honey bees, usually we think only of honey as a healthy alternative to sugar. That’s until you experience Sawh’s Bee Hiving Enterprise, where it’s about more than honey. You are educated about the multiple benefits of products such as bee pollen and honeycomb and the many uses of beeswax. As a local supplier of bee products, the company is happy with the way local producers are taking advantage of quality bee products available right here in Barbados and how Barbadians are improving their health.

A real eye-opener is Bee Pollen.  There’s good reason why bee pollen is referred to as a “complete food” or “the perfect food.” It actually contains over 96 nutrients and offers everything needed to sustain the life of a human.

Bee pollen has already been used in herbal medicine for thousands of years, but it is only recently that it has become studied and acclaimed in Western medicine. The Chinese have used Bee Pollen for centuries to assist with increasing energy and libido, fighting acne, aiding in indigestion, assisting depression and helping to improve blood pressure. Bee pollen is also credited with lowering cholesterol, fighting cancer, improving immune function, lowering stress and assisting in weight control.

Locally, Sawh’s Bee Hiving Enterprise is ensuring that quality bee products are available. In an interview Devkumar Parasram noted, “What is particularly special about our local honey and bee products is the variety. Because we have so many different flowers available, our honey is complex and potent; this gives it a unique taste and flavour and this is the reason why we have a number of international clients who really like the rich mixture that comes from the nectar from our various flowers.”

“There are so many great benefits to our local bee products,” Parasram continued. “For example those who suffer from allergies caused by pollen in the air can use our bee pollen in shakes or teas to combat those allergies. Our beeswax is used in the production of cosmetics and aromatherapy products. Many use it for hair locking, others for making scented candles and yet others in the development of facials, masks and other spa products.”

For those honey enthusiasts with discriminating palates and a real concern about the source of their honey, Sawh’s Bee Hiving can supply your pure honeycomb, with the added benefit that once you have removed the honey from the cells, you are left with quality bee’s wax which you can use as you desire.

Sawh’s Bee Hiving Enterprise – a producer of quality bee products.


Nature’s Produce Inc - A Partner with Mother Nature

Quite often, success in a market is not measured by your ability to compete mainstream, but on your ability to carve out your own niche and unique market position. One company which has successfully done this is Nature’s Produce Inc., Barbados’ leading producer of gourmet lettuce and specialty herbs. Their facility is impressive and their environmental practices are internationally recognised and certified.

The company cultivates a wide range of vegetables, fruit and fresh herbs using organic practices. From vine ripened cherry tomatoes to salad tomatoes, rocket salad, watercress, fine beans, eggplant, sweet peppers, basil, dill, coriander, Italian parsley, lemon grass, and mint to mention a few, Nature’s Produce has carved out its own niche in this market. They are the producers of specialty baby vegetables for high end hotels, restaurants and villas, as well as one of the leading producers of free-range eggs on the island.

Managing Director Tim Walsh, in talking about the company’s operations, noted: “There is often the discussion as to whether our products are truly organic or not. The answer to that is, Nature’s Produce Inc. has been converting its farming techniques to use only organic controls and expects to introduce a range of certified organically grown produce grown to USDA (North American Organic Produce) standards. For the sake of clarity, however, the company recognises that part of its production methods includes hydroponic lettuce, and while the same organic controls products are used as with our other organic production, the lettuce is not certifiable as organically grown since the system does not use soil.”

“More important,” Walsh continued, “is the nutritional value that consumers can expect from our products. Our gourmet and specialty lettuces are of a European style and are different in taste and textures from the traditional romaine and iceberg lettuces. Our varieties are more climatically adaptable when compared to those more well-known lettuces which are cold weather in nature and high in water content. The nutritional value of our products is much higher,” Walsh concluded.

Nature’s Produce is also showing that it is more than lettuce and specialty herbs as the business is making strides and adding to its product offering. The company’s latest development is in the production of fresh water fish, specifically Cray fish and Tilapia; which they are looking to sell live to the UK export market. According to Walsh, there are excellent opportunities for exporting the company’s fresh water fish to the UK since the product will remain alive in transition for approximately four days and our facilities at the Grantley Adams International Airport facilitate trans-shipping.

The company is in the process of developing its production volume but in the meantime believes that its operation is environmentally sound and is contributing to the reduction in our island’s carbon foot print. As part of its design, the nutrient rich water catchment from its fish rearing is cycled back to feed its green house production and the company proudly engages in sustainable type farming practices based on the principles of therma culture. Nature’s Produce - lettuce, herbs, free range eggs, fresh water fish and so much more.


Pine Hill Dairy

Mention the name Pine Hill and automatically milk and juices immediately spring to mind. However the Barbados Dairy Industries (Pine Hill Dairy) is not only about Milk or Juices. This locally owned and operated company has been in existence since 1966 and today also produces other products such as yogurt,fresh cream and milkshake. It is also safe to say that Pine Hill milk and juices are sure to be found in both the refrigerators and other food storage facilities in almost every household in the island. Due to the easy availability of the products, most persons never stop to think about the process involved in their production.

Through an initiative by the Barbados Manufacturers’ Association (BMA) in partnership with the Barbados Workers’ Union (BWA) called Home Grown Open Day, the public of Barbados were recently given an opportunity to tour the facilities at the Dairy to see first-hand the manufacturing process taking place and to learn more about the products.

The tour began with a video presentation where the history of the Dairy and the entire processing process are explained by their well trained and knowledgeable tour conductors. During the presentation those in the audience were given the opportunity to ask questions on any part of the presentation. Following the presentation they were then led to the second stage which is the entry into the plant to witness the process unfolding. Once in the plant the first stop was the control room where they were shown the latest technology used to control every aspect of the plant. They were taught about the stringent and selective and meticulous ways in which the raw materials were sourced and stored before reaching the production line. Areas such as safety procedures, quarantining, packaging and storage were also included.

From there the tour went to the mixing area with the large storage tanks where the processes were again explained and questions answered.  Next was the processing section which was immediately followed by the filling section. Again a number of questions were asked as members of the touring party continued to marvel at the amount of work it took to reach that point.  The distribution area and the warehouse were the two final pieces of the completed puzzle.  

At the end of the near two hour long tour each member of the touring party left the compound with an appreciation for the management and staff of the Pine Hill Dairy and also the importance of buying local, knowing that they are buying products that are on par with those available anywhere else in the world.The Pine Hill brands have been able to gain a foothold in thirteen markets including the United States tri-state area. Airline flight kitchens and cruise ships are also regular patrons.

Today, both the on-farm and processing operations are technologically up to date and included in the day-to-day operations are a fleet of specialised tankers that collects milk once daily from farms in two zones and delivers to the Dairy’s processing plant. These improvements have led to an enhanced level of self-sufficiency in some milk products. In addition, the processing plant is now fully locally controlled. Another very good reason to buy local.


Brown or Green - Local or Imported, Choices and Consequences

Life is constantly full of choices and we have long been told that with each choice comes a consequence. But do we fully understand the consequences when we choose imported products over local products? Or when we choose to export jobs instead of saving and securing local jobs?

It is a fact that we are not self-sufficient as a nation, that we cannot produce everything that we need, and that there are some things that we will have no choice but to import. However, what we also know to be fact is that we do have the choice, or dare say a responsibility to choose local products first and foremost whenever and wherever they are available.

The choice to choose the brown bottle when we want a refreshing beer instead of a green one; thereby supporting local investment into the world’s most state-of-the-art brewery and guaranteeing a good quality beer. A choice to choose locally produced burgers rather than those imported from abroad - which do not carry real Bajan flavour. A choice to purchase local chicken and support our local poultry growers rather than importing cooked chicken from overseas. Our manufacturers are producing a variety of top-quality products right here at home; so why are we choosing imported products over our own home-grown ones?

Barbadosdoes not have the wealth and resources of some of our competing nations and so their products entering our market do so with an unfair advantage. They are, more often than not, heavily subsidised and have a competitive edge. The playing field is seldom level.

There is nothing we can do about that when we are importing products not available locally.

But, why would we perpetuate this and erode the local market share for locally-produced products, by allowing entry to competing products free of duties and taxes? Why do we make it easier for these products to enter and compete against local products to the disadvantage of our local manufacturers? Do we really understand the consequences? Do we really understand that when local markets are eroded our manufacturers actually have to cut jobs? If we continue to purchase high levels of imported products our foreign exchange bill will climb. Do we understand that if manufacturers are forced to close their doors our avenues for foreign exchange earnings are narrowed? Do we realise that if our manufacturers are not making money the economy suffers; there is no money for staff training and development; and no money for investment in equipment to further the manufacturing sector? If we fail to support our farmers, our agricultural sector suffers while those in foreign countries thrive at our expense. Your own job, your personal wealth and our national economy is relying on all of us to do our part.

The choice to buy locally made products is too important to ignore whilst the consequences of choosing differently can impact us all severely.


Sampling Programme - Getting our Products into the Consumers’ Hands

Renowned Market Researcher and Analyst, Jerry W. Thomas has said and maintains that, “Based upon 30 years of marketing research experience, spanning thousands of research projects, I am convinced that product testing is the single most valuable marketing research that most companies ever do.” No wonder the Barbados Manufacturers’

Association places high priority on its Sampling Programme in executing its marketing mix for the Brands of Barbados Programme.

Each week through the Buy Bajan promotional campaign, six (6) 3-hour sessions are conducted at various supermarkets and other outlets across the island. The purpose of the promotions is to increase consumer awareness and by extension, sales of various locally manufactured products available at these outlets. As a rule Barbadians tend to stick with products they know and usually are not very adventurous when it comes to trying new things. Economic factors also play a crucial role in pushing this programme. With tight budgets people are not necessarily prepared to invest in purchasing a new product which they may or may not have tasted or used before.

“Getting our products into the hands of consumers is a real priority,” stated Bobbi McKay, Executive Director of the BMA. “The promotional team must have the relevant knowledge to market each product. To this end, the interaction between the consumer and the promoter is a healthy and productive one. This we see as a win-win, and each month, we select four or five different products to highlight. When people experience Bajan products that is how they make a connection. Our Sampling Programme therefore creates a wonderful bridge; it allows them to try the product, establish a liking for it and give them the confidence to purchase it, knowing they like the texture and taste,” Ms McKay continued.

Are there spin-off benefits to manufacturers being part of the Sampling Programme? Yes! The programme collects data from each session to obtain feedback from consumers. A number of demographic profiles are examined, including: whether consumers are local or visitors and how they feel about the product. The information is collated, analysed and compiled into a report at the end of each month, and submitted to the BMA for dissemination to the respective manufacturers.

This feedback goes a long way towards helping manufacturers either perfect their products – if change is necessary that is, or towards helping them to provide the products that consumers want. Additionally, when people experience the products and enjoy them, this boosts manufacturers’ sales.

“Without the Sampling Programme some consumers may never have had the opportunity to try the products and thereby become customers; this programme makes that all possible,” McKay concluded.


Quenching Your Thirst and More … Silver Spring Bottled Water

Ask anyone who has had Silver Spring bottled water, and they will tell you what they enjoy most is the noticeable clean, fresh taste. While many may be unaware, and may even have believed it to be an international brand, Silver Spring is bottled right here by Four Square Rum Distillery, part of the Award Winning R. L. Seale & Co. Ltd. group of companies. This is our very own Bajan label, produced with the same international standards as any imported brand. Silver Spring has been quenching the thirst of Barbadians and helping them on their journey to a healthier lifestyle since 1995.

The company is meeting the needs of Barbadians who prefer bottled water for its convenience and the various known benefits of such a product. Speaking about the Silver Spring brand, Plant Manager, Brian Fernandes noted, “Our production of this label helps to provide local jobs and offers a quality product which Barbadians can be proud of. We employ bottling methods comparable with any international water bottling facility and our water is “filtered, softened, filtered” via reverse osmosis and then sterilised with U.V. light. Persons often comment on the noticeable clean, fresh taste. What is important for us, however, is that it is truly 100% Bajan and we should all be proud of it. We adhere to strict quality checks to ensure the best possible product for the consumer.”

Within recent years, Barbadians have become more and more health conscious, greatly increasing their intake of water as a part of their healthy lifestyles. Silver Spring is available in 500ml, 1.5L and 5-gallon bottles, making it easier and more convenient to drink eight glasses of water a day while also giving the peace of mind that there are no deposits or unwelcomed minerals in the water. Barbadians are encouraged to include Silver Spring bottled water as their water of choice in preparing their survival kits this Hurricane Season. One of the biggest problems after a disaster is a lack of clean drinking water as a result of damaged water mains. Keeping a ready supply of water on hand can also reduce the risk of illness from contaminated water and increases the chances of survival. Research has shown that we don’t always drink enough water and often become dehydrated due to changing weather patterns caused by global warming. The fluids we do use tend to be caffeinated, which do not help as caffeine acts like a diuretic, making the problem worse. Research has also shown that if a liquid is placed next to where an individual is working, they will unconsciously drink it.

Whatever the reason, whether you choose bottled water for the convenience, for its health benefits or to avoid dehydration, why not check the label and reach for the local brand… Silver Spring. We do not have to wonder what part of the world Silver Spring bottled water is coming from and remember, its production helps to safeguard local jobs. Silver Spring bottled water is available at a number of supermarkets and gas stations island-wide.


Armag Farms Heeds the Call to Reduce Food Imports

People worldwide are rediscovering the benefits of buying local food. Many of the larger countries are feverishly building massive campaigns that call for support of local enterprise and the purchase of local produce. They are looking to protect jobs and strengthen their economies; so why aren’t we?

Local produce is fresher, more nutritious and definitely more flavourful than most imported products. Added to that, purchasing local produce supports local farmers, helps them to stay in business and cuts down on our food import bill.

Armag Farms Ltd. is but one in our farming community which is heeding the call to help reduce our food import bill. Started back in 1997, the company began growing a wide range of agricultural produce. However over the years it has streamlined its operation to specialise in the production of sweet potatoes. While the farm still maintains some production of carrot, yam, peas, cassava, okra and cucumber, the decision to specialise in sweet potatoes was geared at being able to produce a steady supply of potato for the market on a year round basis; thereby assuring its clientele they could rely on them for continuity of supply.

Key to this was the investment in, and completion of, an irrigation system capable of irrigating an acreage which would allow year round production of potatoes. Commenting on its operation, Richard Armstrong noted, “Sweet potato is currently the crop that Armag specialises in, being the main supplier to most of the bigger supermarkets in the island. It is our intention to start to diversify our product offering and to enhance what we do with our sweet potatoes by now dicing, processing into fries and puree. The final products will be blanched (pre-cooked) and frozen or chilled depending on the market. We also plan to process cassava, breadfruit, yam and corn as time goes on and to have these products, or a combination of them, packaged in such a way that would allow a housewife to pop them into the microwave for final cooking without the normal time consuming preparation required with these crops.”

“We are currently working with a food technologist who has had experience in Trinidad with an organisation that produces similar products. A small area for the processing and storage is currently being prepared to meet health authorities’ stipulations, and the necessary equipment is being researched and priced,” Armstrong concluded. More and more, research is showing the health benefits of local “ground provisions” such as sweet potato, cassava, breadfruit, yams and the like. Armag is seeking to meet two needs of our local market, “convenience and healthy foods”. As we promote healthy lifestyles and eating healthy foods, with our very busy lifestyles “convenience” is key.

Armag’s efforts to package these two together are bound for success.


West Indies Rum Distillery: Thriving in tough times 

By Aprille Thomas

It has been over 300 years since sugar cane was introduced to Barbados by the Dutch settlements of Brazil and Guyana. Since then, the industry has significantly developed, with the establishment of the West Indies Rum Distillery in 1893 by the Stades Brothers.

Initially created for the purpose of exporting rum to the brothers’ homeland of Germany, the distillery was eventually bought by Barbadians, and has remained under the control of locals, thanks to majority shareholder Goddard Enterprises Limited.

The distillery has developed significantly from its humble beginnings, implementing technologies to aid in quality and efficiency, and it is now one of the leading distilleries in the region.

Today it boasts being a distillery with one of the most modern four-column continuous stills in the Caribbean. And the distillery doesn’t only have a strong presence in the region, but in the United States and the United Kingdom as well.

West Indies Rum Distillery has contracts with numerous successful products such as Cockspur and Malibu, and has an interest in two distilleries in Jamaica, according to Divisional General Manager for Manufacturing, John Taylor. With years of experience in the industry, Taylor has been privy to a plethora of changes, some of which aren’t that beneficial for the distillery.

“The rum business is different in recent times,” explained Taylor, adding that competition from largely subsidised distilleries in St. Croix and Puerto Rico is proving to be challenging for them. The distillery isn’t only battling external challenges, but also some from right here at home.

“There’s a lack of investment in the Bridgetown Port. The terminal in the port that stores molasses has been allowed to deteriorate and it’s affecting all of the distilleries,” he clarified.

“These are the facilities that lie at the very core of our production.” Taylor is calling for Government support and he explained just how much the problem is putting a strain on the distillery that he adds is impressively large by international standards.

While that is the most pressing problem at the moment, he further explained the need for the Government to pay attention to the high costs in the manufacturing industry, in particular infrastructural and transactional costs. In his opinion, the right support and structure could facilitate a growth in employment.

The distillery currently has an employee count of 56. Taylor seems confident that the situation will improve, however, and hopefully it will, because this distillery is the pride and joy of Barbadians.


A Taste of World-Class In Your Backyard!

By Aprille Thomas

Barbadosnow boasts a brand new, state-of-the art brewery in Newton, Christ Church. Banks Breweries Limited found its new home late last year and is up and running as before—only better.

Brewery Manager Akash Ragbir says that plans are underway for an expansion of their offerings to include a visitor’s centre as well as a souvenir shop, so that tourists and locals alike can tour the world class facility.

“Space was an issue, and the level of technology at Wildey,” Ragbir speaks to the main reasons for the investment. “It didn’t allow us to achieve world-class standards and key performance indicators.” (That’s brewery talk for efficiency.)

Basically, they had outgrown their Wildey location and it was hindering future growth. Ragbir confirms that the decision came from the top. “The Board of Directors decided that the brewery was a very important aspect and something they wanted to invest in.”

What’s interesting about the decision is that it wasn’t made on the sole basis of improving quality, hence increasing revenue. According to Ragbir, they wanted it to be something in which Barbadians could take great pride. “Bajans should be proud; it’s the only plant of its kind in the region.”

And he’s right, we should be proud. The plant’s operations are very environmentally conscious, and there are numerous structures implemented to ensure that Barbados isn’t harmed in the process. “It was designed to be “green”. We have very good energy utilisation. There’s an energy recovery system which allows us to take energy and reuse it in other parts of the process,” Ragbir asserts.

The facility also boasts a waste water treatment plant, a recycling programme where they accept glass, cans, cardboard and plastics, and a solid waste management programme. He adds that no other brewery in the region has these capabilities. “We can deliver high levels of efficiency. The new technology ensures that the beer is made to the highest quality and consistently so,” he smiles.

And this company’s careful consideration has paid off. The brewery has become very attractive to international companies.The recently launched 10 Saints beer is owned by a foreign company, but is manufactured right here at Banks Breweries.

Now that is an accomplishment!

Don’t worry, thanks to Banks Breweries, Barbados isn’t just taking in, we are also putting out. Increased capacity and consistent quality is now allowing them to export our local beer to the United Kingdom. Of course this doesn’t just bring positive exposure for Barbados, but it is also a great foreign exchange earner.However, they can’t do it alone; they need local support.Ragbir confesses that St. Lucian brewed Heineken and Trinidadian brewed Stag are their two biggest competitors.

“Choice is very important, and people need to have choices, but people need to be cognizant of the consequences their choices have on the economy.”And he’s right. This is a ‘real real’ Barbadian company with nothing but Barbadian roots, that consistently gives back to local sports and culture like no other. “Plus and Tiger Malt are drinks Bajans grew up on,” he laughs.

Regional breweries are obviously impressed by the work they are doing because Ragbir says that he has received numerous calls from other breweries asking about visiting. Barbadians will also get the chance to view their new brewery and take in this bit of culture, as an official opening is being planned and there are talks of possibly even having open days.

So as you sip that ice cold Banks, or quench your thirst with that Plus, just think about the world-class facility it was manufactured in, and make sure you go take a look when it opens. You won’t regret it!


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