Carib going global for 70th anniversary

Trinidadian soca artiste Kerwin Du Bois with Jamaican dancehall artiste Shenseea(Chinsea Lee) during the music video for Can You Feel It.

“The word Caribbean does not exist without Carib in front of it.” So said Antron Forte the category manager – Beer, Stout and Cider at CARIB Brewery Ltd during an interview with the Business Guardian magazine. But to CARIB, this phrase is not just a witty play on words. The company’s thrust to become a global brand is based on promoting the Caribbean experience. 

During our 25-minute interview with Forte, he used the word “Caribbean” no fewer than 28 times. As an example of Carib’s commitment to promoting the Caribbean, two Fridays ago the company premièred its song “Can You Feel It” which was performed by Trinidadian soca artiste Kerwin Du Bois and Jamaican dancehall artiste Shenseea(Chinsea Lee). The video was shot in the Bahamas and also featured Jabs Jabs from Grenada.

But the other islands were also represented in the video with their flags being featured.

“I think we produced a music video that showcases the Caribbean in its glory. It showcases what we are very proud of and that is what we wanted, that connection with Carib to be,” Forte said. “It is really celebrating the Caribbean and that is why you would have seen us shoot that commercial because Carib in its DNA is about celebrating the Caribbean, about fun, about vibes, about energy, about colour, so for us we found no other way to celebrate the brand but to do it in that style of music, showcasing the Caribbean in its glory,” he said.

One of the major talking points of the video was the cameo by US record executive DJ Khaled (Khaled Mohamed Khaled). Forte said Khaled was selected because of his love of the Caribbean. This video was just one of several initiatives that CARIB has launched recently as a way to honour its flagship product Carib beer which celebrated its 70th-anniversary last year.

DJ Khaled holds a Carib beer during the video shoot for Can You Feel It.

“We were actually thinking of ways that we could celebrate 70 years because it is a milestone for us and a lot of people don’t know that in 1950 Carib was one of the first brands that was produced here at CARIB Brewery. So we were planning the best way to create that level of energy and excitement but of course, the pandemic came,” Forte said.

Forte said over the last 18 months the company had been working towards building what is being seen today. This includes the re-branding of the Carib Beer logo, Forte said.

“People always represent the Caribbean with a palm tree or a coconut tree and we wanted to develop a symbol or an icon that would really signify the brand Carib and the Caribbean as being one. So with the new label we introduced a symbol to the top or what we call our Caribbean icon, it is made up of a shield that has a few other symbols on it,” Forte said. The symbols include birds, the ocean, the sun rays, and the north star, Forte said. Forte said the birds represent that land is nearby. “So when fishermen see birds they know that land is close,” Forte said. “There’s the ocean or the water which brings us together but also separates us. There are the rays in the back of the shield, the sun rays you know in the Caribbean the beauty and the sunlight is what gives us life, and then, of course, there is a star and the star is the north star which is the first star that we see when we look up into the sky in the evening,” he said.

Forte said this new logo is not a portfolio icon that you are going to see for Carib Brewery products but rather will only be featured on the Carib lager beer, the Carib Pilsner, a new variant beer, and a re-branded old-time favourite. The new variant is the Carib Blue.

And if you have social media you most likely have seen the blue bottle by now.

Forte said the feedback received so far from customers has been “very humbling.” “We just can’t seem to produce enough, people are going crazy trying it. The truth is in developing Carib Blue we wanted to really pay tribute to the mainstream lager beer,” Forte said. Forte said the Carib Blue has six per cent alcohol and is made with the “finest malt and hops that we could find.”

“Our head of brewing really he and his team took the time to put their art into developing such an amazing liquid so the feedback has been really positive. We just can’t seem to make enough because people are wanting it, they are trying it, they are loving it. It is so smooth, it is very, very smooth and very drinkable. We have a word we call sessionable,” he said. “Sessionable” is a term used to mean the beer easily drinkable and refreshing.

The rebranded old-time favourite is the Carib Malta or the drink formerly known as the Malta Carib.

“Malta Carib is back into the fold so it is now part of the family as Carib Malta,” Forte said.

Forte said Carib is distributed in over 33 countries and has four breweries. “So while everybody knows T&T for CARIB Brewery, there is CARIB Brewery Grenada, there is CARIB Brewery St Kitts, and most recently CARIB Brewery USA,” he said.

Forte said CARIB Brewery USA located at Cape Canaveral, Florida will help the company with its plans to make its name globally. That brewery, Forte said, was originally the Florida beer company that has been transitioned now to CARIB Beer USA.

Mackeson, Shandy and Caribe along with the Carib products will be produced there.

“We want to make sure that from a world stage whether it be the diaspora, or new drinkers within North American and beyond they have freshly brewed beer and they get the best of the experience of the Caribbean,” he said.

Bars in T&T are scheduled to reopen next week as a result of the lifting of restrictions to help stop the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic. Forte said Carib is looking forward to this reopening of bars. “We have really tried our best to support those bar owners and their staff because we understand how difficult the last few months have been,” he said.

Forte said many bars have had to shut their doors permanently. “So you are not sure if your favourite watering hole will be opened come November 1 and so for us it has really been trying to support them, trying to ensure that we can look at our models as it relates to the supermarket and ensure that they are also supported because that was the one opportunity for us to sell our product,” Forte said.

“But also we had to be cognisant that the pandemic had a different method of thinking for consumers. We had to be very clear and very conscious that one, we did the right thing, and two we offered value because people’s disposable income has been reduced significantly and those who are facing unemployment are far worse,” he said.

As a result of this Forte said Carib ensured that had quality products that were delivered on time. “We continue to diversify our portfolio so that people can enjoy that perfect drink because our portfolio is very wide at Carib Brewery and again we have something for everyone,” he said. Forte said a couple of weeks ago Carib had an internal launch with its 700-plus employees which he described as “euphoric.”

“Next couple of months into 2022 we want to celebrate life, we want to make sure our products are always available, we want to continue to work with stakeholders to ensure that we are all safe and we continue to supply both our supermarkets as well as our bars and we just want to continue to ensure that moving forward we can get through this pandemic in a positive manner and we can continue to build Carib beer within the world,” Forte said.

“Our rebrand, our celebration is us getting ready to be on that world stage with our brands, to stand up with international brands everywhere so that is why we renovated our look, that is why we continue to build communication that shows the Caribbean, and that is why we continue to ensure that we always set the bar very high in terms of our execution,” he said.

Julien, Joel. “Carib going global for 70th Anniversary.” Trinidad Guardian, 28 Oct. 2021

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