COMPANY HISTORY

Jamaica Producers Group (formerly the Jamaica Banana Producers Association Ltd.) is a wholly Jamaican-owned company with a unique shareholder structure, which is the result of its equally unique history. The company came into being on April 1, 1929, as a direct descendant of the Jamaica Producers Association formed in 1925, under which separate co-operatives—one for the marketing of each agricultural product—were set up. It had an initial membership of 6,145 and a capital of Ł173.60 divided into 41,664 shares at 1d each.

The company was formed with the courageous objective of protecting the Co-operative and the local banana industry from demise owing to fierce competition from the large foreign-owned fruit companies in the shipping and marketing of Jamaican bananas.

Among its leadership were three outstanding Jamaicans—Sir Arthur Farquharson, Charles Edward Johnston and Captain S.D. List.They were men of great vision, commitment and determination who fought valiantly to keep the young Co-operative viable.The Pringle family, with large acreage in banana production, gave courageous and vital support by contracting all their fruits to the Association from the beginning.

Six years after its establishment, it became clear that unless help was forthcoming the Association would fail.On July 18, 1935, at a Public Meeting of the Association, it was resolved that everything possible should be done to maintain the Association "in full strength and vigour" as it was of vital importance to "the banana industry which is the key industry of Jamaica and upon which the prosperity of Jamaica depends.”

Subsequently, a petition was forwarded to the Secretary of State for the colonies and the Island Committee of independent people was formed to investigate the situation and make appropriate recommendations. As a result of this petition, the Jamaica Banana Commission of 1936 was appointed, consisting of W. Gavin, E. Furnival Jones and J.H. Gorvin. The major consequence of the work of this Commission was an Agreement with the United Fruit Company and the Standard Fruit & Steamship Company, which modified the fierce competition that existed between them and JBPA, thereby assuring the continued existence of the Association. However, In order to achieve this result, JBPA had to be reconstituted from a co-operative into a normal trading company with shares ranking for dividends in the usual way. Members—all banana growers—were issued shares to the value of the contributions they had made to the co-operative. Today many of these Jamaicans or their direct descendants own shares in the company.

That was just a peek into our past. We now invite you to travel with us down Memory Lane to discover our major milestones over the years.

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Jamaica Producers Group Limited

A Trip down Memory Lane

1920s to 1940s

1925

The Jamaica Producers’ Association was formed as parent company for several small growers’ co-operatives. The new Association had an initial enrollment of 20,000 members.

1929

On April 1, 1929, The Jamaica Banana Producers Association was born.

1929

Jamaica Producers Marketing Co. Ltd. was established as the marketing arm of The Jamaica Banana Producers Association Ltd.

1931

Jamaica Banana Producers Steamship Company, a wholly owned subsidiary of the cooperative, was incorporated, making the co-op the owner of its own steamship line. Four second-hand ships were purchased and commissioned into service. They were the “Jamaica Producer”, “Jamaica Planter”, “Jamaica Pioneer” and “Jamaica Progress”. This served to protect the Association from the risk of dealing with other shipping companies and gave it a firmer footing in its competition with the United Fruit Company—a giant in the industry at that time.

1936

The Jamaica Banana Producers Association Limited (JBPA) was converted to a joint stock company with shares issued to members to the value of the contributions they had made to the Co-operative.

1937

Through the work of the JBPA, banana exports reached an all-time high of 360,000 tons, representing more than 50% of the value of the island’s exports.

Late 1930s

New refrigerated ships gradually replaced the first old ships.

1939-1945

The new fleet of ships was destroyed in the second World War—the only survivor being the S.S. Jamaica Producer, which continued in service until 1962.

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1920s to 1940s

1950s to 1970s

1980s to present

1950s to 1970s

1959 & 1962

After the war the fleet was supplemented by chartering, and in 1959 & 1962 “Jamaica Planter 2nd” and the “Jamaica Producer 2nd” were built and commissioned into service.

1960

The diversification program continued, permitting the Company to play a major role in the marketing and distributing of Jamaican bananas in the United Kingdom.

1963

In a joint venture agreement between Jamaica Producers Group (70%) and Eric Hopwood & family (30%), five properties were acquired in the parish of St. Mary—Agualta Vale, Chovey, Coleraine, Orange Hill and Water Valley—to grow bananas, sugar cane, citrus and coconuts. With this acquisition, the company became an operator in all phases of the export banana industry—growing, buying, shipping, marketing, ripening, wholesaling and distributing.

Mid 1960s

The JBPA played a major role in providing scientific proof that the Lacatan was a commercially acceptable banana when it became apparent that the industry was about to be destroyed by the Panama Disease. This move saved the banana industry from extinction after the Second World War.

1969

JP Fruit Distributors Ltd. was established in the United Kingdom as a separate entity of the JP Group.

1977

Jamaica Producers became full owners of the five properties acquired under the 1963 joint venture agreement, with the purchase of Hopwood’s 30% ownership.

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1920s to 1940s

1950s to 1970s

1980s to present

1980s to present

1980

Policy decisions taken to resuscitate the ailing banana industry in Jamaica resulted in substantial investments by the Company in establishing 1600 acres of "pure stand" bananas in St. Mary Banana Estates Ltd. and 2000 acres in Eastern Banana Estates Ltd.

The Group also embarked on a major diversification programme in produce trading, travel services, hardware trading and the production and marketing of citrus and fruit juices. The successful company of this diversification thrust, SUNJUICE—established in 1987 in Llantrisant, Wales—now forms part of JPG’s core business units. It produces a wide range of high quality juices, drinks and smoothies ranging over the full spectrum of shelf life (short to long) and packaging (pet, tetra and glass).

1983

Jamaica Producers established an Export Department. The operations began at Agualta Vale, St. Mary, where a packing house was established for the processing of produce. Initial exports were to the UK and subsequently the USA, and included mainly tubers such as yams, dasheens and cocoes. In 2000 the department was moved to a specialized warehouse in Kingston.

1986

St. Mary Banana Estates was established.

1988

Hurricane Gilbert brought one of the worst destructions experienced by the banana industry, flattening thousands of acres of bananas.

1988

Jamaica Producers Shipping Company Ltd. was formed as a joint venture between the Government of Jamaica, Grace Kennedy & Company Ltd. and The Jamaica Banana Producers Association Ltd.

1992

The company’s name was changed from The Jamaica Banana Producers Association Ltd. to Jamaica Producers Group Ltd. to reflect the Group’s diversification thrust.

1992

JP Foods was established.

1994

JPG, Fyffes Plc and Government of Jamaica (GOJ) entered into a joint venture agreement to increase production at Eastern Banana Estates Ltd. in St. Thomas and Victoria Banana Company Ltd. in Clarendon. This resulted in an ownership structure of JPG 55%, Fyffes 40% and GOJ 5%. The two farms fall under the purview of a holding company—Jamaica Banana Holdings Ltd.

1994

Jamaica Producers Group sold 35% of its UK subsidiary, JP Fruit Distributors Ltd., to Dole Food Company Inc. This alliance with Dole positioned JPFD for continued success in a liberalized European banana regime and strong growth of the general produce business.

1995

Jamaica Producers Group entered the processed foods market with the acquisition of a food processing plant in Kingston. The new operations—trading as JP Foods—was initially involved in the processing of sauces, seasonings, condiments and other products under the “Jamaica Best” label. In 1996 the Jamaica Best Banana Chips was added to the line of products. Since 2002 the operations has been retrenched and is now focusing solely on the production of chips.

1996

On Thursday, October 3, 1996, Jamaica Producers Group’s Employee Share ownership Plan was officially launched.                   

1998

JPG acquired full ownership of Sunjuice Limited, with a goal of making it the center of the programme to reduce the relative importance of bananas to the Group.


2000


Eastern Banana Estates Ltd. became the first farm in Jamaica and the Caribbean to receive ISO 9002 certification.                                


2001


2003

 


Eastern Banana Estates Ltd. and St. Mary Banana Estates Ltd. gained ISO14000 certification.

Eastern Banana Estates Ltd. became a wholly-owned subsidiary of Jamaica Producers Group Ltd.

 

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1920s to 1940s

1950s to 1970s

1980s to present


Members of the Island Committee
  • N.W. Manley, Q.C.
  • Hon. G.S. Ewen, M.L.C., Custos of Trelawny
  • Hon. J.W.N. Hudson, M.L.C., Westmoreland
  • Penkeeper, D.T. Wint: Planter & M.L.C. for St. Ann
  • T.P. Evelyn, Merchant
  • Sir Charlton Harrison, Indian Civil Servant, Retired
  • Hon. Hugh Clarke, Custos of Westmoreland

Jamaica Producers Group Ltd.
(Formerly The Jamaica Banana Producers Association Ltd.)
Our Chairmen
1929 to Present
Sir Arthur Farquharson
The Hon. C.H Browne
Mr. George W.N. Downer
Mr. Charles H. Johnston

Jamaica Producers Group Ltd.
(Formerly The Jamaica Banana Producers Association Ltd.)
Our Group Managing Directors
1929 to Present
Mr. Charles E. Johnston
Mr. Richard F. Williams
Mr. Herbert T. Hart
Dr. Marshall Hall

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