New cigarette company enters market
Nalco Products Limited, the marketing arm of Hamburg International Limited, a Jamaican-based company, is now manufacturing cigarettes in commercial quantities in Jamaica at very competitive prices following an investment of over US$1.6 million or J$206 million.
In July, Hamburg International got the go-ahead under section 23, sub-section six of the Jamaica Export Free Zones Act to supply tobacco products to Nalco Products from the Industry Ministry.
The cigarettes will be marketed under the brand name KJ Virginia and produced at the Montego Bay Freezone Factory, noted Suzanne Hall, general manager for Nalco.
Meanwhile Coy Guthrie, Nalco's operations manager noted that Jamaica imports a substantial amount of cigarettes annually, costing millions of dollars in foreign currency.
"I believe that Brand Jamaica is an absolutely powerful brand we saw an opportunity to build out a state of the art manufacturing plant in Montego Bay and employ 25 Jamaicans and another 40 within the next six months."
For now the manufacturing process begins with imported blended cut rag tobacco to cigarette paper, filters, filter paper and packaging. Soon, the tobacco will be sourced from contracted farmers in the parishes of St James, Hanover and Clarendon.
Already, Nalco supplies a segment of the local market, and is on track to export to Haiti and Belize and eventually other countries throughout the Caribbean and Latin America.
However Nalco management urged policymakers to intensify real efforts to tackle bureaucracy that hinders many local businesses.
"Deciding to manufacture products in Jamaica is really a bold move on anybody's part, but we need more businesses to go in this direction if we are serious about substantive economic growth and development that makes a real and positive impact on the lives of the Jamaican people," Hall said.