Iconic ice cream brand BICO will once again be made in Barbados come February after a decade of overseas production in several countries, BICO Ltd’s executive director Edwin Thirlwell, announced Tuesday.
In an interview with Barbados TODAY at BICO’s Harbour Road, St Michael office, Thirlwell said there had been a minor delay in the building of the new $3 million plant, but promised that in another two to three months it would be up and running with an added visitor attraction.
It was back in August 2009 that the original factory was destroyed by fire, forcing the company to outsource production in Canada, Cuba, Trinidad and Tobago, Suriname and the Dominican Republic. Some products are sourced from the UK.
Tidwell said: “Things don’t always turn out as you would like. There is a thing called slippage.
“I originally had the deadline that we would be operational by the end of November, but I knew we weren’t going to make that.
“So now it has slipped, and we are going to be testing out the new plant in January
“I think we should be looking at producing here in February.
“We have to get the packaging, we have to get the raw materials and we have to get the inclusions in place, things like milk powder, butter.
“So everything is being scheduled just to have them drop into place so when we get to February we are in a position make something.”
From last year, Thirwell had promised a new modern factory before the 2019 winter season. At the time, engineers, architects and suppliers had been engaged with the project.
The new solar-powered factory, which will be on the spot of the old one, will be smaller and fully computerized. It will consist of resin floors, insulated areas, stainless steel taps and other fixtures that go with a modern plant.
He said he was about “half way along” with the establishment of the new facility, explaining that two 40 ft containers of stainless steel equipment were shipped last week and were on their way to Barbados.
After the new plant is commissioned, products being sourced from the UK such as the Magnum brand, would continue, but other items being made in the region would then be made in Barbados.
He said: “We will have the opportunity to manufacture BICO ice cream in Suriname and sell it there, which will be more cost effective than making it here and sending it there because the freight is about 14 per cent.
“So there are all kinds of options we can move into as we get back into gear and we reestablish ourselves here as a manufacturing capacity.”
Since the new plant will be fully automated, Thirlwell said he did not anticipate a significant number of employment, but said the factory will be a “purpose-built one”, with a visitor attraction addition.
He told Barbados TODAY: “This one will have a separate entrance and you go along a glass-fronted walkway and you can see from one end to the other and see the mixture being pasteurized and homogenized and frozen and filled into containers and going through for storage.
“The good bit is when you get to the other end you get to sample it.
“That, I think, will be a very attractive proposition because it is not easy to see this in an ice cream factory anywhere.”