Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : October 24th 2013 Contents OCTOBER 2013• WEEK FOUR www.guardian.co.tt BUSINESS GUARDIAN
NEWS | BG7
Edmund Ramtahal, director, Radha
Swami Industries, wants to continue
to transform the way the doubles
industry operates. He has already done
so by mechanising the mass production of the
bara that makes doubles.
"We set up the factory to get into the doubles
business and selling bara to the vendors and
being a large volume manufacturer. The tra-
ditional doubles business is a family-owned
business that produces the items at home and
then go and sell the doubles, and that is how
the price has remained so cheap all along," he
said at the Guardian's office, St Vincent Street,
Port-of-Spain, last week.
Ramtahal was one of the entrants in the
Ministry of Planning's 2012 i2i competition
and was awarded a grant and technical support
for the innovation in his industry.
While he is the director of Radha Swami
Industries, his brand of the delicacy is sold
under the name Doubles King.
Ramtahal, who has experience in the snack
and food catering business, said making dou-
bles is labour intensive, so he came up with
the idea of mechanising the process.
"That is how the idea of the machine came
about. We had people with machine design and
building experience and we looked all around
the world to see what machines were available
and found none. We looked at India, China,
Taiwan, US, but people only had machines to
make bread or pizza. Two years ago, we devel-
oped our own machine," Ramtahal said.
He said the company started off with a
$500,000 investment and boasted the doubles
machine is the only one of its kind in the world.
"The $0.5 million covers the start up of the
entire factory and the machine to produce the
doubles. The machine, apart from mechanising
the process, has reduced labour costs. You
also get consistent quality in the product.
Sometimes doubles makers fry beyond the
smoke point which produces variety in the
tastes. The hand-made product varies in size,
taste and texture, but with the machine, it
has consistent quality," he said.
Ramtahal said the machine has been able
to solve "quality issues" of making doubles.
"We implement Hazard Analysis Critical
Control Point. This is a quality control applied
to most food businesses and also ISO 9000
standards. In this way, we are transforming
the industry by bringing professional stan-
dards," he said.
He said the machine produces 5,000 doubles
"Since we started two years ago, we have
already produced two million doubles. The
machine gave us the base to produce at a com-
petitive price," he said Ramtahal has gone one
step further and changed the way doubles is
sold and marketed.
"We have set up permanent doubles outlets
in supermarkets. Nobody has done that before.
We have a relationship with Tru Valu Super-
market, West Bees, Xtra Foods and at places
like the University of the West Indies (UWI). It
is sold in a clean, sanitary environment. It is
not sold on the shelf as we maintain a traditional
doubles format with the box and the umbrella
in a kiosk. We sell seven days a week," he said.
Ramtahal intends to keep raising the standard
of selling doubles.
Another innovation he has is a food warmer
in the doubles box.
"We plug in the food warmer and the channa
remains hot. This keeps it warm from 8 am
to 6 pm. On the average, I would sell 500
doubles in a supermarket a day at $4 a doubles.
We want a healthy doubles for the market,"
"We also have whole wheat bara, which is
sold at $4.50 and pholourie. We use farm oil
and not soya bean oil as this is much healthier,"
Ramtahal envisions a future where doubles
"The same way McDonald's is all over the
world, there is no reason why we cannot do
the same. There is Jamaica, there are nationals
of T&T in Miami and other metropolitan areas
like London and Toronto with West Indians
populations. We must be on the same level
with any international franchise. What is wrong
with sitting in a lounge in Honk Kong and
eating doubles?" he asked.
Michael Parris, founder of Soular, a natural
foods company, said his cocoa and dried
banana products arose out of a need for more
natural food and environmentally-friendly
products for T&T and the region.
He was one of the entrants into the Ministry
of Planning's i2i competition and was awarded
a grant and technical support for the inno-
vation in his industry in 2013. He built a solar
dehydrator with recycled materials. With the
solar dehydrator, solar radiation passes
through the clear glass top of a wooden dehy-
drator box, and the heat trapped by the box
dries the food.
"This project has two aims, both of which
are to build on the initial production tests
and market trials. The first is to construct
a more efficient commercial version of the
current solar dryer. The second is using this
more efficient dryer advance the product
from its current position as a cottage industry
and scale it up to commercial level production
and sales," Parris said via e-mail from Bar-
bados last week.
Parris talked about the history of the proj-
"A year ago I built my first solar dehydrator
with recycled materials. In December 2012,
after five months of experimentation with
building more solar dehydrators and refining
the dehydration process for drying bananas
and cacao, Mr Tallyman's Sun Dried Bananas
introduced its dried banana products to the
market in its first market trials. The market
trials with the dried bananas were successful.
Ninety-five per cent of the people surveyed
loved the product and would buy it.
"The product scored high points from the
consumer for favourable taste, texture and
aesthetics. The measured shelf life was
extremely long without requiring refrigera-
tion," he said.
Parris sailed to Barbados with the products
hoping to enter that market.
"We are connecting small producers and
manufacturers, helping them get their goods
around by sail boat. We brought the dried
bananas from Trinidad to Barbados. I was
here in April as part of the Caribbean-wide
Caribbean Innovation Competition and made
some links here, one of which had a store
and wanted to carry the product.
"One of the other partners in the business
and I sailed together. We won a Caribbean
Innovation Challenge award and a hemi-
spherical one before winning the Ministry of
Planning i2i," he said.
Parris said there is no other product or
process like this undertaken in T&T and the
The trip to Barbados was exploratory.
"We are in Barbados right now after deliv-
ering our first shipment, literally. Since we
do not use any fossil fuels in the manufac-
turing, we did not want to use any in the trans-
port either. So we sailed here to deliver the first
carbon neutral delivery. We are using this trip
as an exploratory one to see how feasible it can
Jeunanne Alkins, design director, ESPjr
(Everything Slight Pepper) intends to develop
a niche in T&T in the childrens' market, almost
like a T&T version of Sesame Street.
"We produce Caribbean-themed content
for children. We design characters based on
local subjects. Our first collection was island
babies collection and it consists of the
leatherback turtles, blue crabs and coconuts.
Our product was printed T-shirts. We are now
getting into animation and print. We have
done a series of colouring books and pages,"
she told the Business Guardian.
Last week the company launched the Web
site, www.espjrisland.com, where customers
can buy their products, such as children T-
"The first T-shirt launch of the leatherback
turtle was launched in 2011. It started as a
project to raise awareness of leatherback turtles.
There are other people who print T-shirts,
but there are not specifically crafted for chil-
dren. We are only doing children," she said.
Alkins, a graphic designer by profession,
worked on Machel Motano's book, Boy Boy and
the Magic Drum, which piqued her interest.
"There are not enough products out there
speaking for local children about local subjects.
We see apples and foreign snowmen, but we
do not see enough about locals. I want to put
it in a Caribbean context," she said.
"My second audience is from ages five to
seven, which allows me to do more creative
things, like arts and crafts and other things.
My submission into i2i was an adventure series
called Bim and Bam Adventure Series.' It is
the story of two children who begin to explore
T&T so they go on an adventure and learn
Innovator wants to export doubles
RAPHAEL JOHN-LALL Edmund Ramtahal, director,
Radha Swami Industries, using a
press to make baras for doubles.
design director, ESPjr.
Links Archive October 23rd 2013 October 25th 2013 Navigation Previous Page Next Page