WHAT DRIVES BEVERAGE DEMAND?
The beverage sector represents a significant contribution to our nation’s GDP. Manufacturers and distributors in this category are known to support local cultural events which are uniquely ingrained in the spirit of Trinidad and Tobago. It’s important that companies in this industry are ready and able to capitalize on this increased demand for drinks during the “busy season”, which is the last and first quarter every year. From Christmas to Carnival, from sorrel to rum & coke, the success of any brand during this season depends on the company’s ability to market, service and hold adequate inventory, and satisfy this spike in sales as a result of demand.
Demand drives economic growth. Companies should focus their energy where there is increased demand so they can improve their profits. Governments and central banks try to boost demand to end recessions while they slow it down during the expansion phase of the business cycle, to combat inflation. What drives this demand? The price, income of your customers, as well as their tastes and expectations, and the number of consumers in the market, are all important factors to consider when you’re trying to capitalize on potential sales this season.
Our nation’s colourful and lively annual calendar of celebrations is ideally matched with the variety of alcoholic and non-alcoholic brands available on the market. This assortment of products can be a selling point to our regional and international visitors who want to indulge in our local drinks for Christmas and Carnival. The beverage industry could serve as a catalyst to have our nation well poised to capture the essence of this diversity through the types of beverages available at events, bars, restaurants, hotels, and other locations throughout the country.
Over the last decade, we have seen many beverage producers invest in new technology and equipment to increase their production capacity for the domestic and international markets in the rum & beer category, as well as in the nonalcoholic range (i.e. fruit juices, flavoured water, water, soft drinks, etc.) Even though we are currently experiencing a recession, with this increased capacity in production companies should acknowledge and pursue the opportunity in the busy season as well as explore new markets. You should focus on understanding your customers and being ready for the seasons throughout the year, particularly at Christmas and Carnival time in Trinidad & Tobago. Alternatively, imports of wines and spirits also augur well on the local market, with domestic consumption relatively steady.
The multi-national companies leading the pace include Unilever, Nestlé and Coca-Cola, while our local distributors and manufacturers have kept up – for example, A.S. Bryden, AMCO, Iceland Distributors, Massy Distribution, SM Jaleel, Carib Brewery and Angostura, to name a few. Export markets accessed by some of our home grown labels include the rest of the Caribbean, North and South American proliferation, and a few niche market inlets in Europe and Canada. Many organic based and fresh fruit beverages have recently entered
the market to find a place in the landscape of very high visibility positions on the shelves of retail outlets.
Recent winners in the TT Chamber of Industry and Commerce Annual Awards in the New Entrepreneur category were from the retail/niche sector of Organic juices, “Sweet Beet”, They have taken their product past the retail walls to commercial production. The proof is in the possibility to accomplish not only such an accolade, but in building a brand of quality and service that creates demand by the consumer and equally spurs growth in sales. Other local niche beverage markets like cocoa, coffee, coconut water and milk based drinks are gradually infiltrating the commercial sphere in limited quantity.
Our location in the region gives us a business advantage which would only work towards our benefit. Proximity to other markets, low production costs, and strategic shipping ports in T&T, hold limitless potential for our home grown and homemade to acquire an international standards portfolio of products & services.
As much as the beverage sector could offer a sustainable source for consumer demand, it’s directly related to the demand for downstream industries e.g. events, music and entertainment. The annual Tobago Jazz Festival and the vast majority of the all-inclusive and popular concerts and cooler ‘fetes’ drive consumption over the festive season by offering innovative cocktails and a potent mixture of alcoholic drinks. Trinis fete and celebrate with drive and determination.
An insurmountable amount of drinks will be consumed over the Christmas and Carnival seasons in Trinidad & Tobago, an important commodity for the masquerader playing with TRIBE, BLISS, FANTASY, ENTICE, YUMA or HARTS for Carnival. The season seems never-ending, as the planning for next year begins as the sun sets on Carnival Tuesday, before the Ash Wednesday embers can burn. Plan ahead, know your customer, stock up and get Ready and Set to Sell!