$30 million boost for Angostura’s Bitters
By Sasha Harrinanan Thursday, June 21 2012
ANGOSTURA plans to invest $30 million in the coming months to upgrade the equipment used to bottle its world-famous aromatic Bitters. Executive Director, Vidia Persad-Doodnath, spoke to Business Day about the planned upgrade following the Institute of Engineering and Technology’s (IET) tour of Angostura’s production facilities at its Eastern Main Road, Laventille headquarters on June 8.
“We expect to spend over $30 million on a completely new production line for our Bitters. The new bottling machine should be installed in the next three to four months (September to October). Once that’s done,” Persad-Doodnath noted, “our output of original and orange flavoured Bitters is expected to increase by at least 25 percent.”
This is the second such modernisation by the bitters and spirits producer in recent years. Two years ago, Angostura installed a new filling machine for its 750 ml and one litre bottles of rum, the shapes of which had been re-designed as part of an overhaul of the company’s product packaging and marketing strategy.
Such investment in new equipment by a member of Trinidad and Tobago’s manufacturing sector was the reason why Angostura was approached by IET’s Caribbean Interim Local Network (ILN) to show its international members, including IET President, Dr Mike Short, the level of technology available in TT.
Angostura’s CEO, Robert Wong, explained the benefits of being part of IET’s June 7 to 9 tour of various facilities in Trinidad, which also included a research lab at the St Augustine Campus of the University of the West Indies.
“The tour provided us with the opportunity to network with local and international members of the IET. We were able to speak face-to-face with the UK-based Dr Short, who has a lot of experience in engineering and technology. Building relationships such as this is important for Angostura as we continue to modernise our facilities,” Wong said.
Angostura’s chief executive also told Newsday he would like his engineers “to interact some more with IET’s local chapter, which has become more active since Mr Deoraj Beephan became Chairman.”
“It’s good to be part of these business support organisations because information sharing and networking provides invaluable guidance into best practices and advice on various technologies,” Wong noted. Getting feedback from IET members, Wong said, would serve the company well in its current drive to improve efficiencies.
“We are in the process of upgrading our plant, our distillery, our packaging facility. In fact, we have been pursuing the modernisation of a lot of our delivery processes and it’s moving ahead quite well.”
Angostura is also implementing a three-year plan (2012 - 2014) to introduce its “Caribbean Rum” range to emerging rum markets and to re-launch it in countries like the United States where it was previously sold through the now defunct distributor, Angostura USA.
Investments and new marketing strategies are even more important in light of the current economic woes in Europe and the United Kingdom, two of Angostura’s biggest markets for Bitters firstly and increasingly, for its Caribbean Rum products.
Wong noted the international market has been “challenging for all spirits companies” but said Angostura has been able to keep its market share and connect with new consumers because of regular brand promotion and investment in new equipment and staff training.
“It’s not an easy ride,” Wong acknowledged, “but we just have to be smarter, continue to reinforce our brands. Again, the investments that we’re making in our technology ensures that we are ahead of competitors. In Europe, even though a lot of the big companies are finding it more difficult in terms of the spirits market, we still have some growth in our rum brands and in our Bitters lines; original and orange flavour.”