Officials of this island’s largest beverage manufacturer is giving the local economy a vote of confidence as the company continues to invest despite some challenges.
Jose Infante, Country Manager of the Pine Hill Dairy (PHD), a subsidiary of the Banks Holdings Group (BHL), said while the local economy continues to face a number of challenges it was still holding its own.
BHL has further delayed the publication of its audited financial statements and annual report for the year ending December 31, 2018 as a result of the company “requiring additional time to complete its audit”. The information should be published by November.
However, following a tour of The Pine, St Michael facility on Thursday, Infante said he was pleased with last year’s performance despite continued stiff competition from imported items.
“We are seeing a bright future in our performance. We are looking at ways to increase our export [and] we are looking at ways that we can get more innovations in the market. So we see a bright future. We are really pleased with the performance [last year] and we are hoping for a much better performance in 2019 and 2020,” he told journalists.
The tour of the PHD facility formed part of a wider outreach programme by the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security in an effort to gather information and come up with solutions to various issues facing the agriculture sector.
Infante said the business climate remained challenging but that was not stopping the company from pumping roughly US$1 million into the economy through various upgrades and innovation in an effort to further improve operations and the skillsets of staff.
“I think that we are facing the challenges that we are seeing worldwide, but we believe a lot in Barbados, we believe a lot in the talent that we have locally and we believe a lot in the investments that we are doing,” said Infante.
“So we are seeing just a bright future. We are pleased with our performance now and we are looking forward to having an even better performance going forward, while pointing out that so far close to US$700,000 has been invested in the Pine Hill facility.
“We are expecting to invest up to the end of the year another US$300,000 or $400,000,” he added.
PHD is the manufacturer of a number of pasteurized, evaporated, reconstituted and flavoured milk, condensed milk, juices and juice drinks.
This portfolio represents about 50 per cent of the BHL Group’s sales revenue.
The juices represent 57 per cent of the volume in PHD, while milk products make up the remaining 43 per cent.
Infante said about 25 per cent of the volume produced is exported with juices taking up the bulk of exports.
He said while the company exported to a number of CARICOM nations and the US, the main export market for the PHD products was St Lucia, which gets roughly 50 per cent, followed by Antigua and Barbuda and Guyana.
Following the tour of the PHD facility, Minister of Agriculture and Food Security Indar Weir said he was “impressed”, as he pointed to the company’s modern equipment and adherence to high safety standards.
Describing the PHD as a “benchmark for manufacturing in Barbados”, Weir said: “I would certainly hope you will share with other manufacturers in Barbados how they can reach these standards.” [email protected]