Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : May 11th 2017 Contents MAY 11 • 2017 guardian.co.tt BUSINESS GUARDIAN
NEWS | BG7
Doubles-making goes industrial
Businessman Toddy Ramsahai
believes the doubles and phol-
ourie-making machine that his
team developed and now use
to mass produce doubles and
pholourie can change the way
the industry operates in T&T.
According to Ramsahai, the doubles-mak-
ing industry in T&T is well over 75 years old,
but it has never moved beyond the fami-
ly-owned business model.
"We took an engineering approach. We
looked at the issues in doubles manufactur-
ing: the high labour cost, the fact that the
traditional makers of doubles were retiring
and there were not enough young people inter-
ested in getting into the production part of the
industry. Manufacturing of doubles involves
very hard work. So the idea behind the machine
is to reduce the labour content and improve
the quality in the production process."
Ramsahai, who is a consultant on this
project, spoke to the Business Guardian last
Saturday at the doubles making factory on
Boundary Road in San Juan.
Radha Swami Industries Ltd, which runs
the factory, also owns and operates the su-
permarket-based doubles outlets, branded
as "Doubles King."
Ramsahai said approximately two years ago
he was contacted by Radha Swami Industries
to work with them in fabricating a machine
that the company developed to simplify the
manufacturing process of doubles.
He gave significant credit to engineer
Fitzalroy Rampersad, who was instrumental
in providing valuable technical inputs for the
machine's design and fabrication.
Ramsahai owns a construction/engineering
business in Point Lisas, where the machines
are constructed. He said this was a team effort
that has borne fruit. The people who worked
on the project also expressed their gratitude to
the pioneers of the doubles industry; people
who toiled long and hard to make the business
what it has become today.
Ramsahai said when he was contacted by
Radha Swami Industries Ltd, they said they
saw an opportunity in the market for an or-
ganisation to mass produce doubles in an
He said they looked all over the world for a
similar machine, but they were not successful.
"The equipment on the international mar-
kets to handle this type of dough was either
not available or would have been far too ex-
pensive to be viable in this industry where
profit margins are so small."
So, they decided to do it themselves.
The machines have the capacity to produce
1,000 doubles (2,000 barras) per hour and
12,000 pholouries on an eight-hour shift.
He said they supply only a small part of the
market as more than 100,000 doubles are sold
throughout the country daily.
The machines also allow the production of
a standardised product, as each barra weighs
approximately 26 grammes.
"Vendors approach us with orders. They
drop off their coolers and early the next morn-
ing they pick it up and they retail.
"We also have our own outlets that oper-
ate in TruValu Supermarket, Xtra Foods and a
few others. We cater for events like Carnival,
weddings and family celebrations," he said.
Apart from using the doubles-making
machine locally, the company has plans to
export locally manufactured machines in-
"Over the last two weeks we have received
two confirmed orders for this equipment from
the United States. We also have two other in-
terested parties in Boston and Miami," he said.
Ramsahai said they have been working with
local farmers to improve the supply chain in
terms of inputs for the doubles and other
products. Ingredients such as hot peppers,
cucumber, chadon beni, pimentos and dasheen
bush for saheena are all sourced locally on a
"We have worked with local farmers to try to
have a consistent supply and at a fixed price.
We do not want prices to vary with the season.
We work with farmers who are producing as
naturally as possible.
"We need to know what chemicals they
use and the way they grow it so the product
is healthy. In return, we provide a constant
market throughout the year."
Foreign exchange woes
He also listed accessing foreign exchange
as a challenge for them as some of the key
inputs are imported from foreign countries.
"Channa is imported from Canada and
Argentina. We import the oil from Indonesia
and Malaysia. Then we have tamarind which
usually comes from India. There is a lot of
tamarind in Trinidad, so why do we have to
"Our agricultural sector needs to be properly
organised to support our indigenous industry.
Our sugar is also imported. The local imports
that we actually use also include flour, garlic,
spices and ginger."
He said this is another reason why the local
agriculture needs to be strengthened so that
they could source more local inputs, instead
"We are not happy with all these foreign
inputs but it is what we have to deal with. We
would like to use more local produce."
Ramsahai also said they produce a healthy
product and unlike many other businesses
who produce doubles, theirs is always a fresh
"We also use palm oil for frying. The sea-
sonings contain antioxidants which is good
for your health. Doubles has a 12-hour shelf
life as the channa needs to be kept at a high
temperature otherwise it spoils rapidly. We use
food warmers at all our points of sales to keep
the channa hot. We have not had one com-
plaint from any customer about getting sick.
"Any pepper sauce, sweet sauce and any-
thing else that comes back at the end of the
day is disposed off. We never reuse any food
items the next day."
Ramsahai said people who have tradition-
ally sold doubles have never looked at it as a
"They don't do proper costing for their
vehicles, transportation, the rental cost of
the properties they use, labour, and other
cost inputs. All they look at is the number of
doubles they sell and how much they make that
day. They don't have accountants so no one
ever looked at the true costs in this business."
For this reason, he believes the price of
doubles should be higher.
"A doubles should cost between $6 to $8. A
hamburger has the same number of ingredi-
ents, and much less labour content, and look
at the price of that product. It is only the meat
that is different and the price of a burger is
nothing less than $25," he said.
Looking into the future, Ramsahai said they
are also working on new machines. They have
already applied for a patent for the machine
they have manufactured.
He said they would like to create a brand
and make Doubles King a franchise operation.
"Doubles King could be like KFC or other
big brands. The is the vision of Radha Swami
Industries---to create a brand to market this
product locally and internationally."
He said if there are business people in the
other Caribbean islands who are interested in
selling doubles, they are ready to supply the
machines and other assistance.
"We are prepared to support them, to train
them and equip them with machinery. This
can be an international brand like any other,"
Local company develops machine to mass produce, export
This following is a breakdown
of the input cost of doubles
2 barras: $1.50
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