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JP predicts 15% jump in snack revenue from new product

Jamaica Producers Group has launched a snack called Johnny Crunchers, under the St Mary’s brand, and is predicting that its snack division sales will grow 15 per cent, as a result, within a year.

The new snack’s main ingredient is mixed flour, and it has a taste profile similar to ‘Johnny cakes’ or fried dumplings – a popular breakfast item in Jamaican households – but with a ‘twist’ that recategorises the side serving as a snack.

“Basically, it’s a cross between a cracker and a chip,” said Marketing Manager of JP’s St Mary brand Erin Mitchell.

The Johnny Crunchers ‘fry dumpling’ chip is the first in the line to hit the market and is to be followed by ‘red herring’ and then ‘cheese-flavoured’ chips. The 42-gramme snack packages are being released at a suggested retail price of $70. But the original ‘fry dumpling’ Crunchers will also be sold in a shareable 140g at a suggested retail price of $300.

The products will first be marketed in Jamaica for 12 months before hitting export markets.

Jamaica Producers is a food and logistics conglomerate, with operations in the Caribbean and Europe. The food and drink division has the edge on revenue flows, accounting for $14 billion of the $25 billion in sales that the conglomerate racked up in 2021. Profit for the year ending December topped $3.8 billion.

Most of JP’s revenue is derived in Jamaica, but the company is trying to rebalance its markets through new products and business acquisitions. Its last foreign acquisitions were a shipping line called Geest that plies between the United Kingdom and the Caribbean and half of a juice company in Spain called Co-Beverage Labs.

JP packages snacks under the St Mary’s and Monte Cristi brands for markets in Jamaica and the Caribbean, the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, and Central America but also packages tropical snacks for third-party brands in regional countries.

Regarding Johnny Crunchers: “We see an opportunity to conveniently package our favourite carbohydrates without sacrificing taste,” said Jamaica Producers Managing Director Jeffrey Hall.

Hall did not disclose the company’s 2022 innovation budget but said that a line of new products would come from its plantain farms. Last year, JP pumped $100 million into a plantain farm on lands adjoining its banana and pineapple operations in the parish of St Mary, which,Hall said would soon be ready to harvest.

“Innovations will be across all of our food businesses, not just snacks. Our plantain crops will come into production this year. That’s an exciting product for Jamaica … but Johnny Crunchers, we believe, will be a very powerful snack line,” he said.

The company’s farm-fresh portfolio already includes ripe and green bananas, pineapples, and coconuts. But much of the crops serve as raw material for the company’s snacks, a portfolio that includes breadfruit chips, cassava chips, banana chips, ripe and green plantain chips, and plantain strips, among others.

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