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#1 Dianna Blake-Bennett General Manager Salada Foods Jamaica Limited Businessuite 2019 Top Jamaica Main Market CEO By US$ % Change in Profit after Tax



Mrs. Dianna Blake-Bennett joined Salada in February 2016 as the Commercial and Corporate Affairs Manager and was promoted to Acting General Manager in August 2016. Mrs. Blake-Bennett has over 15 years’ experience in Sales and Marketing leading in this area in a number of companies including Restaurant Associate, Mothers Enterprises Limited and the Jamaica Co-Operative Credit Union League.

Prior to joining Salada, she was the Sales and Marketing, Manager at Industrial Chemical Company. Mrs. Blake-Bennett holds a Postgraduate Diploma and an Executive Master in Business Administration from the University of the West Indies, Mona School of Business.

The Company

Salada Foods Jamaica Ltd is the largest coffee processing company in Jamaica and the only soluble coffee processing plant in the Caribbean. We are the home of the renowned Jamaica Mountain Peak brand of coffees and instant teas.

Business Performance

Our 60th year as a company was truly historic.  We hit revenue of $1.041 billion and returned net profit of $219.18 million as we continue to execute on our strategic initiatives – grow exports, introduce new products in the local market to improve our market share, improve factory utility and make Salada a great place to work.  It is our belief that delivering on these strategic pillars will improve shareholder value.

The introduction of a cess in April of USD$1.41 per kg on the importation of green coffee beans, the main raw material in our operations, impacted our bottom line adversely by $20 million. Since then, we have been lobbying Government to remove the cess on commodity grade and priced green coffee beans, as this is not available locally. If the cess remains, our bottom line will take a $90 million hit in the coming fiscal year.

Economically, the past year was a relatively stable one. There was growth in several sectors of our economy, lower unemployment aided disposable income availability which contributed to our revenue growth. Fluctuations in the exchange rate mid-year were concerning but by the last quarter of the year there was relative stability and our US investment portfolio was not negatively impacted.

The performance of LASCO in the distribution of brands is exemplary, sales to trade was $655 million, growing 13% above prior year.

Export sales grew by 21% above last year to $146.36 million as our collective efforts with our distribution partners in the United States, Canada and Barbados were successful.  Growth in the US was 10% year over year, with the Northeast showing signs of recovery posting 14% growth over last year. The Canadian and Barbadian markets grew year on year by 440% and 220% respectively.

Group Operating Profit & Net Profit Operating profit improved by 237.38% to $270.07 million, $33.70 million of this total was a write back relating to termination of medical benefits associated to retired employees.

Operationally, selling and promotional expenses increased by $12.15 million above last year’s $32.77 million which was associated with the launch of our Mountain Bliss 876 brand.

As Management paid focused attention, administrative expenses were curtailed at $118,348 million in comparison to $112,913 million prior year restated without retirement benefits.

Net profit of $219.18 million, our best to date, was the result of our increased revenue, lower operational expenses and improvements to finance income earnings due to foreign exchange gains.

Sales & Marketing

Launching our newly acquired Mountain Bliss 876 brand (MB876) was the centre of our marketing thrust as we sought to gain distribution presence and share of mind. At year-end we had attained 70% distribution of the two sku’s- MB876 gold and classic in supermarkets across the island.

Our flagship brands Jamaica Mountain Peak Coffee and Ginger products broke new ground as we executed on our strategic platform to engage a younger consumer base. We launched several activities on our university campuses, primarily The University of the West Indies (UWI) and University of Technology (UTECH), including a loyalty card with our campus partner Narda’s Coffee Shop and sponsorship of UWI 5K to assist students with tuition were a few of the activities that has endeared our brands to them. Social media activities played a pivotal role in the brands gaining our younger consumers’ attention and loyalty. Operations & Quality Full introduction of flexi work week in our packaging operations positively impacted cost of labour with the resultant improvements to factory overheads and gross margins.

In October, the first month of the new fiscal year, we had a boiler accident. It took longer than expected to get the boiler back up, thus production was affected for the first two months of the new year and will impact our first quarter results.  Operations resumed in December and we have in place plans which will realign our performance going forward.

We continue to operate as a certified Safe Quality Foods (SQF) manufacturing facility and were re-certified in November 2018. Subsidiaries During the year significant efforts were made to divest Salada’s shares in the Pimora subsidiary, but without success.  Production and sales of Pimora smokers were discontinued, this caused a further impairment of the assets, with a resultant net loss of $6.5 million.

Mountain Peak Food Processors Limited continues to operate as the distribution arm of the Group and posted profits for the second year running.

Corporate Social Responsibility

We continue to execute our plan to have Jebb Memorial Basic School certified as an early childhood facility. This year, a breakfast programme was instituted to help children that come to school without that very important meal. Additionally, classrooms were tiled, and industrial strength ceiling fans installed, which were required components for certification.  We continue to finance their lunch, yard maintenance and pest control programmes.  Our support continues to engender community support and goodwill.


Economic Conditions Jamaica’s macro-economic outlook is positive, with unemployment trending downwards and inflation set to be relatively stable at 4%. We expect that domestic sales will continue to grow as our strategies to enter new channels and eek out new opportunities in existing channels are realized.

Exports too, are expected to continue its upward trajectory with us capitalizing on the performance in the United States, Canada and Barbados whilst seeking opportunities in other markets.

We will continue to leverage our manufacturing expertise and capitalize on our contract manufacturing segment while developing new products for future introduction.

Social media straddled with the use of traditional media sources will remain the main platforms utilized in the execution of our selling and promotional activities as we undertake to convert brand awareness into consumption of our products.

Our biggest risks are the changes to the regulatory environment and the lack thereof of a transparent policy that governs the coffee industry and specifically the importation of coffee beans since the country does not produce commodity grade or priced coffee for manufacturing.  We will continue to lobby Government to ensure that a policy is put in place and to ensure that our manufacturing interest is considered.

As we continue to grow shareholder value, management will continue to pay keen attention to key areas of the business.

Dianna Blake-Bennett General Manager Salada Foods Jamaica Limited

To view full 2018 Annual Report click HERE

Businessuite Women

JAMPRO’S Film Commissioner to join International Women’s Forum Global Leaders Fellows Program



Film Commissioner at JAMPRO, Renee Robinson, has been selected to be part of the International Women’s Forum Global Leaders Fellows Program for the year 2022-23. The year-long, intensive leadership development experience prepares Fellows to be leaders for tomorrow through multidisciplinary training that develops the participants’ leadership and management capabilities.

“This opportunity will allow me to fluently speak the language of international deal-making, advance the focal shift of business towards the creative economy, and solidify access to financing for our creative practitioners.”

Robinson’s selection was based on her career as an orange economy expert, content strategist, and thought-leader. She has served as Jamaica’s Film Commissioner since 2016, with responsibility for national economic growth and economic impact of the screen-based industries, advancing employment, film production expenditure, and contribution to GDP (Gross Domestic Product).

JAMPRO’s President, Diane Edwards, said that “we congratulate Renee for being selected to join this prestigious Fellows Programme. We look forward to seeing her advancement in the next year, and her continued excellent work to develop Jamaica’s creative economy”.

Reacting to her selection for the Fellows Program, Ms. Robinson said it demonstrates the rising shift towards business-focused entertainment industry as a valid economic driver. She noted, “Investing in the creative economy is not philanthropy or corporate social responsibility; it is, in fact, lucrative and critical for socio-economic development. Through the Fellowship, I plan to groom my skills in influencing business decisions that support the creative economy.”


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Businessuite News24

€7-Million Grant For Women In Business And MSMEs



Minister of Finance and the Public Service, Dr. the Hon. Nigel Clarke (left), and General Manager (Acting), Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) Caribbean Country Department Group, Carmen Madriz, shake hands following the symbolic signing of a Non-Reimbursable Agreement for the European Union’s provision of a €7-million (over J$1.2-billion) grant for the Government’s Boosting Innovation, Growth and Entrepreneurship Ecosystems (BIGEE) Programme. The signing was held during a Visibility Ceremony at The Jamaica Pegasus hotel in New Kingston, on Wednesday (May 25).


The Government’s Boosting Innovation, Growth and Entrepreneurship Ecosystems (BIGEE) Programme has been bolstered with a €7-million (over J$1.2-billion) grant from the European Union (EU).

This will provide support for female-led businesses by helping them to build their capacity to contribute to the economy; assist recovery of micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) from the economic fallout resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic; and support stakeholder climate change mitigation and adaptation projects that contribute to resilience and sustainability.

The funds are being facilitated through a Non-Reimbursable Financing Agreement under the EU’s Caribbean Investment Facility and will complement the US$25-million loan for the BIGEE programme that was provided by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), which will administer the grant.

The BIGEE Programme, which is being implemented by the Development Bank of Jamaica (DBJ), aims to promote sustainable and robust growth among start-ups and MSMEs.

Minister of Finance and the Public Service, Dr. the Hon. Nigel Clarke; Head of the European Union Delegation in Jamaica, Ambassador Marianne Van Steen; General Manager (Acting), IDB Caribbean Country Department Group, Carmen Madriz; and DBJ Managing Director, Anthony Shaw, participated in a symbolic grant agreement signing on Wednesday (May 25).

This was held during a visibility ceremony at The Jamaica Pegasus hotel in New Kingston.

Dr. Clarke, who conveyed the Government’s gratitude for the EU’s support, said the BIGEE Programme is geared towards positioning innovation at the centre of the business ecosystem.

“For [Jamaica] to have the kind of economic growth that can support the kind of jobs [we are seeking to generate], we need value-added private-sector activity which is based on innovation,” he stated.

In this regard, Dr. Clarke, who is also Chairman of the IDB’s Board of Governors, said the BIGEE programme “underscores the Government’s commitment to promoting financing and investing in innovation”.

Mr. Shaw said the grant agreement represents “another step in the long-standing fruitful relations between Jamaica and one of our most dependable international development partners – the EU”.

Ambassador Van Steen, in her remarks, said the grant was indicative of the EU’s renewed commitment to fostering entrepreneurship in Jamaica, in a sustainable way.

“The development of micro, small and medium enterprises is critical, not only to the Jamaican economy but to the economies in all countries. Here in Jamaica, they are playing a vital role in the Government’s efforts to spur economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic,” she stated.

Meanwhile, Mrs. Madriz said the grant represents “another important milestone in the effort of the Government of Jamaica, Development Bank of Jamaica and the Inter-American Development Bank to strengthen the country’s business ecosystem”.

The BIGEE Programme’s specific objectives are promoting innovation and productivity among established MSMEs with high growth potential, promoting sustainable growth in scalable start-ups, and creating a sustainable pipeline of high-growth potential start-ups.

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Businessuite Women

Businessuite Power 50 Women in Jamaican Business for 2022



BUSINESSUITE Magazine’s  ranking of Jamaica’s leading businesswomen provides a unique opportunity to secure an insight into the professional lives and activity of some of the most interesting and inspiring women in Jamaica’s private sector today.

How we pick the Power 50

What qualities can adequately describe a woman of power and influence on a national level? She is often described as ambitious, driven, determined, creative, a confident leader and a risk-taker. She allows her passions to order her steps, her gifts and her talents to become her own personal calling card.

Powerful and influential women are thriving in their business lives across Jamaica and so the move by the BUSINESSUITE editorial team to select, based on the format created by FORTUNE magazine editors, the 50 most powerful and influential women was truly a daunting task.

As stated, the selection process for the BUSINESSUITE list of the ’50 Most Powerful and Influential Business Women’ is based on a general format created and used by the editorial team of FORTUNE Magazine. This includes:

1. The general size (Revenue, Profitability and Human Resource) and importance of the woman’s company in the Jamaican economy;
2. The health and direction of the company;
3. The arc of the woman’s career and;
4. Societal and cultural influence of the business as informed by key industry insiders and published information

It must however be noted that since BUSINESSUITE Magazine is not privy to the financial statements of some of the companies mentioned, this was not heavily factored into our final listing and placements. Readers are therefore invited to debate and discuss the names and placement of individuals.

They aren’t just successful executives, entrepreneurs, or administrators who are admired and respected within their own organisations, they are the voices that are heard across the industries in which their companies operate, even across corporate Jamaica as a whole.

The Presentation Event – October 2022
The awards will be given to 50 women business leaders who have achieved strong results in their respective fields. This will be the 1st edition of Businessuite Magazine’s Most Powerful Women Awards, to be held in October 2022. Details to come.

The awards are aimed at honouring remarkable Jamaican women who have made outstanding contributions to their organisations and set new standards of administration and performance across corporate Jamaica and the economy.

We will also be seeking to recognise and identifying Rising Stars and Women Abroad.

The Special Edition – October 2022
The event felicitates the most powerful women in Jamaican business and salutes the spirit of successful business women with a special issue of Businessuite Magazine ‘Most Powerful Women in Business” Jamaica Edition. Details to come

See also

The Top 40 Most Powerful and Influential Women in Jamaican Business for 2016.

Businessuite Power 50 Women in Jamaican Business for 2013

Businessuite Power 50 Women in Jamaican Business for 2012

Businessuite Magazine December 2014 Digital Edition

BUSINESSUITE Magazine October 2012 Digital Issue

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Taking Stock LIVE – CEO and Founder of Island Grill, Thalia Lyn Opens Up



Jamaican fast food chain Island Grill, is expanding! The eatery is seeking to employ 1-hundred new staff, including positions at a new Spanish Town restaurant. But what are their plans beyond Jamaica? And will they ever do an IPO? CEO and Founder of Island Grill, Thalia Lyn, joins us.

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Businessuite Women

Ketanji Brown Jackson Confirmed To The U.S. Supreme Court



Ketanji Brown Jackson was confirmed to the U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday, making history as the first Black woman to ever join its ranks while leaving the balance on the nine-member court—controlled by a six member Republican-appointed majority—unchanged. The 53-47 vote affirming the elevation of the 51-year-old federal appellate judge saw her garner backing of all 50 Senate Democrats and only three Republicans.

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