A mere seven years after it was founded, Caribbean Cream Ltd. stands as the leading provider of ice cream in Jamaica, Managing Director Chris Clarke says. “We are No. 1,” he says, adding that the company has achieved that status by remaining distinctively Jamaican.
Some U.S. competitors will sell vanilla, chocolate and strawberry products, but Caribbean Cream instead stays true to local favorites. “The top-selling flavors in Jamaica are grape nut [and] rum and raisin,” Clarke explains. “We [also] understand the product and make a product that’s smoother.”
Based in Kingston, Jamaica, Caribbean Cream manufactures and distributes ice cream and frozen novelties under the Kremi brand.
Prior to founding the company in 2006, Clarke gained experience by working in the ice cream business that his mother ran in Jamaica. Years later, Clarke went to college at the University of Michigan, where he earned an engineering degree, and at the University of Miami, where he earned a master’s degree in business administration. After working for General Motors for several years, he returned home to start Caribbean Cream.
“I thought there was an opportunity to sell ice cream through [mobile] vendors to the average Jamaican,” Clarke recalls. With his science background, “We were able to make a higher quality of ice cream and match the price of our local competitor,” he says.
Caribbean Cream has stayed successful by continually investing in state-of-the-art equipment. “Those [investments] enable us to make better ice cream, compared to the locals that have been making [the same] ice cream for 20-some-odd years,” he says.
Caribbean Cream has growth on its mind, Clarke says. Additionally, earlier this year, the company launched an IPO. “We’ve taken that money and we’re reinvesting it in the capacity of the plant,” he says.
“Maybe two years from now, our capacity will be five times what it is now,” he says. Currently, its plant has the capacity to make 30,000 gallons of ice cream weekly.
Caribbean Cream also wants to grow its reach in the market. Although the majority of the company’s sales are from mobile bike vendors, Caribbean Cream has its sights set on the hospitality industry.
Recently, Caribbean Cream signed a contract to supply more than 10 hotels operated by Sandal Resorts International. “It’s added $30 million to our yearly sales total,” Clarke says.
Caribbean Cream also wants to grow its share of the retail sales. Today, the company’s products are found in 20 supermarkets, “but we need to sell more through them,” Clarke declares. “The problem we have is our branding is not strong.”
The vendors that come and buy Caribbean Cream’s products, he explains, are not branded. “What we would like to do is brand the vendors and hope that the strengthening of our brand will lead to larger sales in the supermarkets.”
In a Good Place
Employee morale is strong at Caribbean Cream, and Clarke credits this to the company’s growth. “I feel that when you have a staff that sees the company is growing and doing well, it makes them want to work harder,” Clarke explains.
“[This] leads to more and more people thinking that when they come to work, what they do matters,” Clarke says, adding that Caribbean Cream enjoys low turnover. “Everybody likes to work in a place where things are going well.”
Because of the IPO, many of Caribbean Cream’s employees own stock in the firm. “We’ve also invested in them with training,” Clarke continues. “That leads to more and more people buying in.”
Additionally, the future looks bright for Caribbean Cream, Clarke says. “Right now, we don’t have enough ice cream to sell [to everyone], which is an issue,” he says.
However, “It’s a problem that everybody would want to have,” Clarke declares. “With the IPO, we’re in a good position to continue to increase growth and continue to get more market shares.”