Bibulous Americans can now rest assured that a famed Jamaican beer, Red Stripe, will soon indeed be brewed for export as was for many years before. The Managing Director of the brand, Ricardo Nuncio, told Jamaican cabinet ministers Audley Shaw and Karl Samuda, that Red Stripe will resume brewing for its fans outside of Jamaica. Red Stripe is currently a subsidiary of Dutch brewing multi-national Heineken International. Nuncio told his guests on August 3 “We should be ready to start shipping the product to the US market as of the first week of September. That is now a reality. It is going to happen in the first week of September.”
Red Stripe beer had been brewed at its Spanish Road location in Kingston since 1938. However, in 2012 its then-parent company Diageo shifted production to Latrobe, Pennsylvania, to quench thirsty American customers. Some beer drinkers took exception to the move. There were others who alleged that the use of phrases such as “Taste of Jamaica” and Jamaican Style” on Red Stripe bottles were intentionally misleading.
In April, a California court dismissed plaintiffs’ allegations that Red Stripe beer labeling and marketing are misleading. The decision in Dumas v. Diageo PLC is a boon to brewers with foreign brands who want to produce them in the U.S. without a significant risk of litigation. The plaintiffs complained about Red Stripe’s labelling said that the beer “embodied the spirit, rhythm and pulse of Jamaica and its people.” However, Red Stripe labelling and secondary packaging notably disclosed that the beer for the U.S. market beer was brewed and bottled in Pennsylvania.
The court concluded in the case that “no reasonable consumer would be misled into thinking that Red Stripe is made in Jamaica with Jamaican ingredients based on the wording of the packaging and labeling.” More specifically, the court held that the appearance of “Jamaica” and Jamaican” on the packaging does not support a conclusion that confusion might arise over the origin and ingredients of the beer. It also contended that the statements on Red Stripe are akin to other such as “Swiss Army knife” in which “Swiss” modifies “Army,” just as in this case “Jamaican” modifies “Style” and does not guarantee the actual place of production.
While consumers may have had an expectation that Red Strip was brewed in Jamaica, based on past production, the brewer had no duty to allay such notions, the court ruled.
The brewer has huge expectations for the markets in Jamaica and elsewhere. The company expects to invest 60 million euros in 2017 for a new production line. If everything goes according to plan, said Nuncio, the new production should be online by the beginning of the fourth quarter in 2017.
He said that the new line would be limited to producing for the export market, while the current packaging line will be used exclusively for the local market. Red Stripe announced that it will add 30 more jobs, and increase its cassava plantings from 300 acres to 1,000 acres by the end of 2016. Cassava is used as the starch source in Red Stripe beer.
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