$36m worth of juice concentrate stolen

More than $36 million worth of commercial juice concentrate has been stolen from Jamaica Beverages Limited's (JBL). JBL is owned by the Trinidad and Tobago-based company S.M. Jaleel, which is the largest manufacturer of non-alcoholic beverages in the Caribbean.

The management of the company has been left with several questions to answer, such as: how did that large an amount of product go missing without anyone noticing, especially with the existence of 24-hour security at the plant?

The answer to that question could rest with two former workers, but the management says they have not returned to work since taking leave just before a check showed that the juice concentrate had gone missing.

"We noticed this incident in April of this year. The two employees took leave at the same time, so we had a new supervisor that came in," said Naim Khan, logistics manager at JBL.

"He (the new supervisor) was asked to find a particular formulation of concentrate, so in searching for it he came upon a lot of empty drums that were labelled as full drums of concentrate. The moment that was reported to us we decided to shut down the warehouse and check it over," added Khan.

The search of the warehouse revealed that several of the 55-gallon drums that were labelled as full of orange juice concentrate were empty, while others were found to contain as little as 10 per cent of potential capacity.

The matter was initially reported to the local police, but due to the size of the theft Khan was referred to the Police Fraud Squad.

A member of the Fraud Squad confirmed that the matter was reported on June 8, but said investigations are in the preliminary stages.

The volume of concentrate stolen, the majority of which was made from oranges purchased locally, is said to have been enough to fill 386 of the 55-gallon drums which could have made 200,000 cases of Fruta, with each case containing 24 cans.

But because of the specialised environment in which concentrate has to be stored and the precise purpose for which it is used, Khan has been left with the question - who would have had an interest in acquiring so much concentrate?

"There are only a few people who deal with concentrate in Jamaica (but) we can't point any fingers at anybody. The reality is that this is something you can't just move and carry home and store," said Khan.

Source: jamaica-gleaner.com

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