DDL opens US$9M bottling plant
Demerara Distillers Limited (DDL), which prides itself as being the leading manufacturer of wines and spirits in Guyana, yesterday opened a US$9 million state-of-the-art bottling plant.
The plant, capable of bottling 12,000 bottles of rum an hour, was set up to meet the growing demand for the famed El Dorado brand of rums.
President Bharrat Jagdeo was moved to ask the planners of the opening ceremony to move a giant size photo of a bottle of El Dorado from in front of the podium before he spoke at the ceremony. He then praised the company for its vision, and then went on a tour of the plant after cutting the ceremonial ribbon to open the facility.
President Jagdeo said that he embraced the vision and enthusiasm of DDL and the company has significantly improved its competitiveness globally. The President said he was pleased with the developments at DDL.
Komal Samaroo, DDL’s Managing Director, said the opening of the plant marked the company’s biggest and boldest step to expand operations to meet the specifications and the growing demand for the El Dorado range of rums.
He said the El Dorado brand has a presence in almost 50 countries, including eight provinces in Canada and 20 states in the U.S. Samaroo attributed this success to the tremendous amount of work that has gone into building the market for the company’s products.
“When we started, the rum category in the international spirits market was dull and uninspiring; today it is considered a ‘hot segment’ thanks to the introduction of high quality rums from the Caribbean,” Samaroo said.
Samaroo said the setting up of the bottling plant was long in the making. He said it was over 20 years ago that the company decided on a three-prong approach to its growth and development.
The bottling plant is set up at Diamond, East Bank Demerara, the home of the company’s other operations, including its rum factory.
Dr. Yesu Persaud, DDL chairman, said the company is very excited about the commissioning of the new plant. The modernized bottling plant is fully automated and will result in a doubling of existing bottling capacity.
“Export demand for the world renowned El Dorado rums has increased and DDL will now to be better able to meet the demand on the international market.”
Dr Persaud said other DDL products are enjoying success on the international market. He said the company’s soft drinks are already being exported to two overseas markets, while the exports of its fruit juices will also start soon.
The DDL Chairman said that the company is looking to the future with confidence despite challenges. He said the road has been “treacherous” at times, but the company remains a strong company with 9,000 shareholders.
He said DDL’s operations at Diamond represent one of the largest industrial complexes in the country.
This fully automated plant is part of DDL’s expansion project, which was announced, in June last year. The ongoing $4.5 billion expansion programme includes the state-of-the-art bottling plant, a multi column still and bio-methanization plant.
Of the US$9 million it cost to get the bottling plant going, US$7 million was the company’s own investment, while the remaining funds were received from the Integrated Development Programme for the Caribbean Rum sector, which is funded by the European Union and managed through the West Indies Rum & Spirits Producers’ Association (WIRSPA).
Vaugh Renwick, the Chief Executive Officer of WIRSPA, said DDL has taken the bull by the horn in taking advantage of the EU funds
The programme for the development of the Caribbean rum sector, financed through 70 million Euros provided by the European Community aims to help the sector to modernise and move from bulk to branded products. It also assists in the upgrading of rum distilleries, improvements in waste management and environmental practices and marketing and distribution of Caribbean brands in growth markets.
Geert Heinkens, European Union High Commissioner, started his address by greeting all the “lovers of rum” said it was refreshing that DDL is pressing ahead with marketing the El Dorado brand in Europe and congratulated the DDL Chairman for his work.
First, the company decided to diversify its sources of income, and this saw the creation of its shipping and distribution subsidiaries. This diversification also included its venture into the non-alcoholic beverage sectors – carbonated beverages, water and juices and food products such as vinegar and fruit mix.
Secondly, the company decided to use its waste streams to create economic value and competitive edge for the company. The approach resulted in the setting up of a carbon dioxide recovery and processing plant for dry ice and carbon dioxide. Currently, as part of its capital expenditure programme, the company is building a bio-methanisation plant to use the distillery waste to produce methane gas, which will be used to provide steam for the distillation process.
And thirdly, the company decided that it must add value to its distillery products through the creation of high value branded products.
This saw the creation of the El Dorado portfolio of premium and super premium and deluxe range of El Dorado rums.