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Feb 22, 2017

35 Years of Grace

It’s arguably the most visible brand in supermarkets across the country—popular for everything from pepper sauce to luncheon meat and everything in between, including condiments.  Today, Grace Kennedy (Belize) Limited officially celebrated its thirty-fifth birthday and it did so by sharing with the media a brief history of its origin in the country, just one year after Belize gained its independence.

 

Isani Cayetano, Reporting

What began as a small trading house by businessmen John Grace and Fred William Kennedy almost a century ago, has since expanded and diversified to become a public company listed on the stock markets of Jamaica and Trinidad & Tobago.  In 1982, Grace Kennedy Limited launched a business venture in Belize on the invitation of former Prime Minister George Price.  The company has succeeded in doing so regionally and today it celebrates thirty-five years in Belize.

 

Gilroy Graham

Gilroy Graham, Executive Chairman, Grace Kennedy Belize

“From inception, Grace Kennedy Belize has been involved with the farming community and the fishing community in developing products for export primarily to the Caribbean, to Jamaica, to Trinidad, to Barbados.  Red kidney beans has been one of the biggest exports from Grace Kennedy Belize.  We were also involved in the exports of fish, shrimp, citrus concentrate, lumber.  We used to export mahogany and cedar and we have also exported peanuts from Belize.”

 

The ubiquitous brand is a mainstay on shelves in almost every grocery store countrywide.  From chicken sausage, to tomato ketchup and cooking oil, they all carry the Grace label.

 

Marnix Perez

Marnix Perez, Marketing Manager, Grace Kennedy Belize

“Each brand that we have, each key brand defines their marketing plan and their brand plan during the course of the year and those are executed based on the activities that we have carried out during the course of the year.  In case of the Grace brand, the plans are to expose the Belizean people to our brand and the products that we have.  So, in the case of, for example new products, a big part of that is exposing the consumer out there in the trade, out there at the supermarket for them to taste the product.  We believe in our product, we stand behind our product so one of the big part of what we do is to have people taste our products and give us feedback.”

 

With a view to take the taste of Jamaican and other Caribbean foods to the world, Grace Kennedy continues to maintains an excellent relationship with Belizean manufacturers.

 

Gilroy Graham

“Currently we do have some strategic partnerships that we are working on with a number of local manufacturers to develop products for export to the Caribbean and to the region in general. One of the products that was featured in the video that we showed is our Grace pepper sauce which is produced by Hot Mama.  We also have our paper products, Roses Paper Products, Regis and My Choice that are actually manufactured here and that is one of the companies that we are currently working with to develop some products for export to Jamaica.”

 

Other brands distributed by the company include Devon, famous for its line of biscuits.

 

Marnix Perez

“We have brands like, for example, Devon cookies, biscuits.  We have had Devon for well over twenty-five years.  That’s been one of the more amazing partners that we have.  The Malher line of consome products, as well, we’ve done really well with that for over ten years.  We have recently, over five or six years we’ve had Benjamin’s as well, Carib brewery lines as well.  In terms of Grace products, we’ve had products like ketchup, Vienna [chicken sausage] that are basically products that have been around forever.  In fact, our business started on the back of Vienna.  That was the first product that we had brought in.”

 

Over the years, Grace Kennedy Belize Ltd. has also been keeping up with its share of corporate social responsibility by supporting education and sports in Belize. Reporting for News Five, I am Isani Cayetano.

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