GraceKennedy Belize Limited – Belize City, Belize

written by BVC August 1, 2022
GraceKennedy Belize Limited - Belize City, Belize

GraceKennedy Belize Limited

Best quality in the food basket

 

Business View Magazine interviews Danielle Daley-Longman, General Manager GraceKennedy Belize Ltd., for our focus on Best Practices in Caribbean Business

Since 1982, GraceKennedy Belize Ltd. has been importing and distributing food and other grocery items to Belizeans, gaining a widespread reputation as a trusted source for quality products. The GraceKennedy parent company, which was started on February 14, 1922 in Jamaica, introduced the core values of honesty, integrity, and trust, which are still a mainstay of the company today.

Danielle Daley-Longman, General Manager of GraceKennedy Belize Limited, shares, “GraceKennedy is really a great company to work for. It started from very humble beginnings and we are very happy that we have survived so long. We say all the time, it’s due to the core values of our forefathers. It’s 100 years for GraceKennedy Group, and 40 years that we’ve been in Belize, which is also an excellent accomplishment.” Luis Ugarte, Customer Service & Sales Manager, who has been with GraceKennedy Belize for 30 years adds, “It’s been an exciting time. I have had the privilege of seeing the company grow. It’s a nice feeling and I believe that we have become very much a part of the Belizean society.”

As with any long-standing company, the past few years have brought challenges for GraceKennedy Belize, but nothing that was unmanageable. As Daley-Longman recounts, “We have, thankfully, been able to weather the storm. Luckily, we sell food, and food is something that continues to unite people. People have to eat. We make sure that the products we have available are in the general basket of Belizeans so that they really meet that need.”

GraceKennedy Belize Limited - Belize City, Belize

Ensuring a quality product in the midst of supply chain issues has been an ongoing focus for GraceKennedy Belize. Daley-Longman admits, “Over the last two years, the supply chain challenges have been immense, but we have certainly pulled together. We rely very much on our corporate teams in Jamaica in terms of making sure that we buy at the best rates, that we source our products sustainably, and that we bring products to market on a consistent basis. One of the things that we are very happy to say is that we provide products that are sourced from trustworthy sources.”

Reporting continued growth year over year, even during the pandemic, she suggests, “I think consumers continued to really rely on the quality of GraceKennedy over the last few years. We have done pretty well. We continue to grow.” Valuable relationships and strategic partnerships are part of GraceKennedy Belize’s success. Not wanting to leave anyone out, Ugarte and Daley-Longman highlight a few longstanding relationships, including food supply management company B.Terfloth; Roses Paper Products – the company’s longest partnership; regional company Carib Brewery  Limited; and Malher, a culinary products manufacturer in Guatemala.

Operating out of a 25,000 square foot warehouse, which includes the company offices, GraceKennedy Belize is focused on growing not only Grace brands, but also sourcing out strategic partner brands. “We try to find brands that resonate in the Belizean market that are not necessarily from our own portfolio, but certainly across the region, and brands that Belizean’s love,” says Daley-Longman, “We make sure that we get products on the shelf, so we distribute sometimes directly with our own trucks, and we partner as well with Belizean companies and distributors to make sure that the products can reach consumers across the country.”

Rising fuel and freight costs have added another challenge, as Daley-Longman adds, “We are constantly having to review our cost structure, review our prices, review our margins, because it is something that has significantly impacted the cost of doing business and the cost of getting products on the shelf in Belize. I think one of the biggest advantages GraceKennedy Belize has is that we are a member of a group of companies. There is no other company in Belize that can say the same. So even though our prices and our costs keep going up, we can leverage with our sister companies and our parent company, to help us maintain those increases as manageable as possible.”

The core values of the company also extend to GraceKennedy Belize’s 47 employees, who Ugarte believes are a huge part of the company’s success. He notes, “Nothing that we have achieved could have been achieved if it wasn’t for the strong workforce that we have. During the pandemic, thankfully, we did not lose any member of staff due to COVID. We had our own challenges and setbacks, but as a team, I believe that the pandemic made us stronger and we learned to take care of one another during this difficult time. I believe that speaks volumes of the type of employees that we have. We are extremely thankful for the commitment and the support that we have gotten from our staff.”

With a mix of long serving and new employees, GraceKennedy Belize operates with decades of experience and a lot of youth and energy. Prioritizing employee engagement, all companies under GraceKennedy Group participate in an annual survey. “We do a pulse check of our employees to make sure that we understand what is keeping them engaged and what issues they are facing, so that we can try to address them as the year goes on,” explains Daley-Longman. “We’re very happy that GraceKennedy Belize continues to have very high employee engagement. It’s something we are very proud of and we take very seriously.”

Mentoring younger employees and offering support for higher education encourages staff members to grow within the company. “That is something that the team members are very excited about, and they certainly look forward to being able to grow with the company,” Daley-Longman shares. “You could have somebody who comes in as a warehouse attendant and worked their way up across several other positions within the company. That’s something that we really encourage our employees to strive towards.”

GraceKennedy Belize Limited - Belize City, Belize

GraceKennedy Belize places prime importance on supporting the community, something which had to be adapted during COVID. Over the last two years, GraceKennedy Group ensured that the health and safety of all their staff and consumers has been kept at the top of mind of everyone. But even though they had to pull back in terms of the type of events they were able to support, that didn’t prevent them from making an impact on communities. Providing baskets to ancillary staff, as well as nurses and doctors, at Karl Heusner Memorial hospital was one way in which GraceKennedy Belize was able to offer encouragement through the pandemic. Daley-Longman acknowledges, “We know it has been a really tough time for everyone during the last few years, and we wanted to make sure that we could support them as best as we could during difficult times. On top of making sure that we meet our objectives, we want to make sure that Belizeans also can receive and feel the impact of GraceKennedy continuing to be part of the DNA of Belize.”

Continued growth is part of the vision for GraceKennedy Group, with a goal of achieving $1.7 billion U.S. in revenue in the foods division by 2030. “Belize will obviously contribute to the achievement of that number over the next few years. We’re very excited about the prospects for the future,” says Daley-Longman. “Our vision is to be the market leader of the multicultural food and beverage segment in Belize.” Adding that the goal is also to expand the company’s penetration in the Belizean market, by entering new spaces and increasing existing areas such as the beverage space, while also ensuring products are as healthy as possible, she asserts, “We want to make sure that we are on the tables of all Belizean consumers. Everything that we do will be led by our consumer needs and consumer trends. We want to stay very, very close to our consumers to ensure that we are delivering products and services that are based on what they need.”

Adding his thoughts about the future of GraceKennedy Belize, Ugarte offers, “As a company we want to be the number one provider of food services and solutions for the Belizean population, and by extension to the other areas close to Belize, Central America, and Mexico. There are a whole lot of opportunities. All of this will only be able to happen because of the people that we have. It wouldn’t be possible, if we didn’t have the commitment and the dedication of our staff, and the support that we have from our biggest sister companies in the group. We are blessed to be a part of this.”

AT A GLANCE

GraceKennedy Belize Limited

WHAT: A major food, grocery, and beverage distributor in Belize

WHERE: Belize City, Belize

WEBSITE: www.gracekennedybelize.com

PREFERRED VENDORS

B. Terfloth Canada – www.terfloth.com

Seprod Group of Companies Ltd – www.seprod.com

Pioneer Chocolate Co. Ltd. – www.pioneerchocolate.com
Main St. Williamsfield, Manchester Jamaica
(876)-963-4216

PT Aloe Vera Indonesia – www.aloe-best.com

P.A. Benjamin Manufacturing Co. Ltd.

www.pabenjamin.com or www.benjaminscosmetics.com

McBride (Caribbean) Limited – www.mcbridegroup.info

S&P Industries Sdn Bhd – www.spfood.com

July-August 2022 Business View Caribbean issue cover
July-August 2022

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