Jamaica: AB InBev strikes deal with Wisynco

Wisynco Group Limited, a diversified Jamaican group and the leading manufacturer and distributor of water and soft drinks in the Caribbean state, has signed a contract with AB InBev to exclusively distribute Budweiser, Corona, Becks and Stella Artois beer brands in Jamaica.

The 0.6 million hl beer market in Jamaica is dominated by Heineken which runs the only beer production on the island. The Dutch brewing group bought in October 2015 Desnoes and Geddes Limited (D&G), the maker of the famous Red Stripe beer, from Diageo and is producing since then some of its international brands locally. AB InBev’s is already selling its beers in Jamaica, but it’s presence, however, has not been very strong.

Per capita consumption of beer in Jamaica is estimated at 18 liters of beer per year which is low relative to markets such as Trinidad, Mexico, United States and Brazil, where the estimates range from 40 to 72 liters.

Wisynco’s acts as exclusive distributor of Red Bull and also manufactures and distributes the products of The Coca Cola Company on an exclusive basis. Its beverage portfolio includes some major brands such as Coca-Cola, Sprite and Welch’s as well as its own locally produced brands Bigga, Wata, Cran Wata : White, Strawberry, Gran and Original Flavours, Minute Maid and Hawaiian Punch.

By forming an exclusive alliance with Wisynco Group, the world’s largest brewer aims to increase awareness and sales of its brands. So far, Wisynco has no beer in its product portfolio.

“We think that the beer market in Jamaica is underserved so while Red Stripe and Heineken along with Guinness are brewed locally, we feel that there is an opportunity for increased competition in that space,” William Mahfood, chairman of Wisynco told the Financial Gleaner.

For the year ended June 2020 Wisynco recorded revenues from continuing operations of JMD 32.2 billion (USD 224m), or 19.4 per cent greater than the JMD26.9 billion (USD 187 m) recorded in the prior year earlier. However, the corona-virus pandemic and the lock-down have also affected the company. “Most of the increases in revenue came from the first eight to nine months of the year and, therefore, in the last quarter when we had the decrease in top-line revenue, it affected our performance over the prior year,” Mahfood said.

In the last months, Wisynco has laid off about 50 of its 2,200 people who were mainly employed in sales and marketing for hotels, bars and restaurants, sectors that were hardest hit by the measures to contain the corona-virus.

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