Basseterre — Bag drinks are available again after a local businessman re-started production with the help of the the Development Bank of St. Kitts and Nevis.
Bag drinks and ice pops have always been a favourite with school-going children and even adults. When the sole local manufacturer of the products closed down in 2016, many were those who feared that a part of the country’s heritage had gone down with it.
Following some help from the DBSKN, the industry has been revived albeit with a new name and in a new location. Seaton Manufacturing, situated at the St. Peter’s Commercial and Institutional Development, is the new name in the production of the traditional bag drinks and ice pops.
This new venture produced the first batch of products to the local market on 22 January this year, and owner, Mr Trevor Seaton, is grateful that with the technical and financial assistance from the Development Bank of St. Kitts and Nevis, he has been able get the business back on its feet. He is now busy contacting all the local vendors to let them know that the popular products are back in the market.
According to Mr Seaton, St. Kitts Dairies Limited used to produce bag drinks, ice pops and ice-cream. When management took the decision to close operations in 2016, a number of persons encouraged him to get involved in either the ice-cream or the drinks section – he chose the drinks part of it. He had worked with the company for nearly ten years and was its Office Manager when it closed its doors.
After he would have made up his mind that he was going to get involved, he approached the Development Bank of St. Kitts and Nevis. The bank not only agreed to finance the whole operations including the buying of land, but also gave him the much needed technical advice.
“The Development Bank had its Fresh Start Programme, and I decided to give it a try when St. Kitts Dairies closed its doors,” said Mr Seaton. “From my experience the response that I got was always positive, it gave me hope that this thing could really happen for me.”
Mr Seaton added: “There was a team called the Business Support Team at the bank that came and did an initial assessment of the area and what I was doing, and the feedback was always encouraging and I was always told that I could always call on upon them for guidance or if I have any difficulty. So the support from the Development Bank has always been tremendous, something that I appreciate. Even up to today the support has been great.”
Since the new venture started operating, Mr Seaton has been approaching many of the former customers of the St. Kitts Dairies and informing them about what he is doing, and many are very enthusiastic about it. He however says that after the break in production of the products, a number of clients had looked to alternatives and he is therefore slowly reacquainting them with the traditional bag drinks.
Paying the Seaton Manufacturing facility a visit recently was Development Bank of St. Kitts and Nevis’ Business Support Officer Mr Manasses Huggins who expressed satisfaction that the bank’s Fresh Start Programme has played a crucial part in ensuring that the bag drinks industry in the Federation did not just fade away.
“For many school-going children, bag drinks were the only drinks available to them irrespective of their families’ financial background,” said Mr Huggins. “When Mr Seaton approached the bank he satisfied us that there was the need. We decided to partner with him as bringing back the industry is important to the social-economic landscape of the country as all children can afford to buy the drinks to quench their thirst.”