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More than $25m in aerated drinks imported in last five years – PM

More than $25m in aerated drinks imported in last five years  – PM

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The importation of aerated drinks into St Vincent and Grenadines accounts for approximately $25.6 million of the import bill over the last five years.

This fact was revealed by Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves during his address at the opening ceremony of East Caribbean Bottlers Inc (ECBI) last Thursday.{{more}}

The ECBI is a part of the Eastern Caribbean Group of Companies (ECGC), which recently, through their acquisition of Bottlers Limited, reintroduced Ju-C to the Vincentian market.

In his address, Gonsalves revealed a number of statistics, geared at highlighting the possibilities for the company.

“In the last 20 years, St Vincent and the Grenadines has imported 45.5 million pounds of aerated beverages, soda and soft drinks, valued at close to $50 million,” the prime minister said.

“You do the math and you will see this is an average of almost 2.2 million pounds of soft drinks per year. The trend is increasing. In the five years between 1993 and 1998, we imported, St Vincent and the Grenadines that is, 2.5 million pounds of soft drinks valued at $2.2 million. In the most recent five years, 2008 to 2013 inclusive, the amount of imported soft drinks has increased nine fold, to 21.5 million pounds. The value of the 21.5 million lbs of imported soft drinks in that five year period was $25.6 million; almost 12 times what was imported back in the day in 1990s.”

According to Gonsalves, this country has made a number of regional companies wealthy through the importation of large quantities of soft drinks. Furthermore, he highlighted that while St Vincent exports soft drinks, there is a huge deficit in terms of local consumption.

“It is true that over the years, both Bottlers and Brewery have exported a fair amount of soft drinks as well, especially to our OECS neighbours, but we are experiencing a soft drink deficit in terms of what we are producing relative to our consumption, huge deficit. In the last five years, we exported $6 million worth of soft drinks, but remember in the same period, we imported $25.6 million. You’re talking nearly $20 million deficit. It is clear that many regional companies have gotten quite wealthy feeding the soft drink habit in St Vincent and the Grenadines. Over the last five years, we have imported $5.5 million worth of aerated beverages from Trinidad and Tobago, but note we have imported 12 million dollars worth from St Lucia where the Trinidadian company, SM Jaleel has an OECS subsidiary. From what you get from Trinidad and what you get from St Lucia, that’s two thirds of our import bill right there,” the prime minister said.

Gonsalves noted that the statistics prove that there is a lot of market share readily available to ECBI and that the company clearly has a market both locally and regionally.(BK)