November 13, 2009
WIBDECO is now Winfresh

Exciting times are in store for stakeholders of the recently rebranded WIBDECO, now rechristened Winfresh.

So says Freemont Lawrence, Communications Manager of Winfresh, formerly the Windward Island Banana Development Export Company, during an interview with Searchlight Wednesday.{{more}}

Lawrence explained that the St. Lucia-based company had moved not only to change its name, but also to reposition itself to allow them to take advantage of opportunities and resources in the region and beyond.

Here on a one-day trip to promote the initiative, which was launched almost one month ago, Lawrence said the move was an effort to, among other things, give farmers the opportunity to produce and export products other than bananas, which he said was in decline since 2001.

“The banana market … is becoming more difficult, with the deregulation of the banana regime.

“We’re not getting out of bananas; that must be made clear. Bananas will remain our core business for a long time.

“[But] the repositioning allows us to offer our customers a wider range of products from the Windward Islands and from the wider Caribbean and so we will not be having all our eggs in one basket,” Lawrence said.

According to Lawrence, the company intends to work closely with farmers in their diversification process by providing technology, technical assistance, loans and even contracts where necessary.

“In that regard, we have forged joint ventures with National Properties and the Lauders Agro Processing. They are involved in some exciting things.”

The L.A.P., led by general manager Dahlia McDowall, currently processes for export fresh dasheens, along with frozen dasheen, callaloo and breadfruit.

They are also involved in the pulping of sour sop, mango, paw paw and oranges, and the manufacture of pepper sauce, with ginger syrup soon to be marketed.

Winfresh packaging is expected to cover these products.

Similar projects are being conducted in Dominica, St. Lucia and Grenada.

Lawrence said that the new drive, which he expects will show positive results within the coming year, will elevate agriculture in the Windward Islands.

He said this is the first time that an important corporate entity such as Winfresh is putting its shoulder to the wheel, and is getting involved in diversification.

“With ships travelling to and from the United Kingdom weekly, storage in the UK and long term relationships with supermarkets for many years which we can take advantage of, we are looking to invest directly in the diversification effort.”