Wednesday 23 October, 2019

Miss Birdie makes healthy $10m investment in gluten-free line

Managing Director of Consolidated Bakeries, Anthony Chang said the company will slowly increase the production for F1RST line as the market dictates. (Photo: Marlon Reid)

Managing Director of Consolidated Bakeries, Anthony Chang said the company will slowly increase the production for F1RST line as the market dictates. (Photo: Marlon Reid)

Consolidated Bakeries, the makers of Miss Birdie, has invested approximately $10 million to roll out a new portfolio of low and gluten-free products to the local market, under the brand F1RST.

The new line includes wheat-free, chocolate-and-banana flavoured muffins called N’uffins and reduced gluten-free bread under the Miss Birdie brand. The products are made with locally-grown cassava. 

Managing Director of Consolidated Bakeries, Anthony Chang said the company will slowly increase the production for F1RST line as the market dictates.

Speaking at F1RST's launch at the company's facilities on Valentine Drive in St Andrew on Wednesday, Chang said the introduction of the cassava-based products was aimed at stimulating the local economy.

Consolidated Bakeries Managing Director Anthony Chang. (Photo: Marlon Reid)

“We said, what can we do to help the economy and we thought of cassava,” Chang said, noting, however, that the bakery had encountered teething pains in the early stages.

“It has been a long journey. The commercial viability at times was questionable, but the board supported it because it had a strong Jamaican component and more importantly the farmers, who are very important for Jamaica,” Chang added.

Nevertheless, the Consolidated Bakeries boss is keen on ensuring that the company’s latest investment translates into profit for the 67-year-old bakery, which listed on Jamaica Stock Exchange Junior Market in 2012.

"It is all about love. Love for Jamaica and love for what we are doing and we have to translate that love into profits and cash flow and make sure we have current assets,” Chang said.

Consolidated Bakeries Managing Director Anthony Chang (left) shares a light moment with Agriculture Minister Audley Shaw, and his cousin, Island Grill boss, Thalia Lyn and outgoing president JMEA President Metry Seaga. (Photo:Marlon Reid)

The process took approximately two years to come to fruition, with Consolidated Bakeries garnering support from other bakeries, the University of the West Indies' Scientific Research Unit, Scientific Research Council (SRC) and overseas technical experts, according to Chang.

Chang further revealed that the $10 million investment for F1RST, assisted with repurposing production and storage areas for the new products.

“We got in some additional space because we don't want to commingle the healthy with the wheat products,” Chang told Loop News’ reporter Job Nelson.

Miss Birdie's F1RST Launch

Click the gallery for more photos from F1RST's launch by Marlon Reid

Minister of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries, Audley Shaw, urged Consolidated Bakeries to get the products into the export market, with consumers in Jamaica and the world now adopting healthy eating habits.

He said Consolidated Bakeries’ introduction of F1RST was a bold and inventive idea that the country needs.

Meanwhile, president of the Jamaica Manufacturers and Exporters' Association, Metry Seaga, said the initiative by Consolidated Bakeries, is aligned with the health-conscious trend that has enveloped the world.

He said that it also demonstrates that opportunities are available on the island, but will mature with innovative thinking.

Seaga also encouraged the island’s youth to use the initiative by Consolidated Bakeries to change their mindset about agriculture.

Consolidated Bakeries, widely known for its baked products that are manufactured under the Purity and Miss Birdie brands.

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