Wednesday 26 September, 2018

Flavorite is back

Strawberry Ripple ice cream from Flavorite

Strawberry Ripple ice cream from Flavorite

Flavorite is back in business. And the company is relaunching with its full complement of staff who were kept employed over the period the company was not in operation.

Keenon Roper Manager, Group Trade and Marketing of Flavorite Foods Limited, told Loop the decision to keep the 180 permanent employees was made by Chairman Andre Monteil who didn’t want to put anyone on the breadline.

“With no revenues coming in he made a commitment not to send anyone home and maintained factory count. It speaks to the commitment to the company, product and brand. We knew we were going to come back to market and the competency of the staff was valuable so we kept them on board, we didn’t want to be one of the companies that put people on the breadline,” said Roper.

Flavorite stopped its T&T operations in January though they were still doing contract manufacturing for other companies in islands such as Barbados.  

Roper said the decision was made to pull back operations to re-evaluate its business in the face of foreign exchange limitations.

“It was a sign of the economic times. We had to take stock of our inputs, we had to manage foreign currency expenditure. During our time off the market, we were looking at how to utilise local inputs from raw materials to packaging. Our packaging is local and a lot of our inputs, milk, sugars etc are sourced locally now,” he said.

In June, Grand Slam restaurants, a division under Flavorite Foods Limited, closed the local Denny’s franchise it owned citing the shortage of foreign exchange as a major hamper to its operations. The company also closed Cold Stone Creamery outlets around the country, though they still retain the franchise.

“Flavorite is our core business, where we are known for value through quality ice cream so any other business will be built on the strength of that,” said Roper.

The popular local ice cream company relaunched the day before Independence with a Trini to the Cone, a new product to celebrate this country’s 56th Independence.

The tri-flavour product, comprising cherry cheesecake, coconut and dark chocolate, will be available through Republic Day.

Roper told Loop the flavour might be continued based on customer feedback.

The Trini to the Cone is currently available in a two litre and is being distributed through Massy stores.

Roper said they are now in the process of rolling out their distribution through various channels including their cart distributors who will be visible as early as this weekend.

Products will hit the retail stores from next week.

On Tuesday, Flavorite announced the resumption of its factory sales at its retail outlet at Flavorite Brands in San Juan where customers could purchase favourite novelty products including 90ml (small cups), Milkies, Freezies, Hola Kola, Likka Stik, Dark n Gold, as well as Flavorite Supreme ice cream in 6L and 9.5L bucket sizes

Asked if there will be any other new flavours, Roper said the company is focused on delivering to customers the flavours they love such as the Neopolitan, Rum and Raisin and Cookies and Cream. He said the Cotton Candy, previously available only in the 9.5 buckets, will now be available as a take-home item.

With an emphasis on local raw materials and packaging, Roper said the only challenge to using local materials is the higher cost. As such, prices of Flavorite’s products have increased marginally, he said, noting that they have absorbed overall increases in cost.

In the time that Flavorite has been off the market, the ice cream shelves have become a little more crowded with new players. Hadco, for instance, the biggest importer and distributor of ice cream brands such as Ben and Jerry's, Breyers, Häagen-Dazs and Nestlé, recently invested in the production of an indigenous brand called Creamery.

Roper welcomes the competition.

“Competition is always good, it creates more prominence and attention to the entire category so someone who may not be eating ice cream as a dessert choice is now focused on ice cream and that increases the size of the market. Competition makes you focus on core competencies and finds a way to distinguish itself from the competition,” he said.