D’Vanya’s plans to distribute its products throughout The Bahamas and export overseas
In The Bahamas, when you want to add some extra flavour to your meal, there is one homegrown brand that immediately comes to mind – D’Vanya’s.
‘D’Vanya’s Manufacturing’ (formerly D’Vanya’s Spices Ltd) was started more than 25 years ago by entrepreneur Greg Douglas with his brother.
Greg is a well-known Bahamian singer. He was part of two successful groups called Fame and Visage and was regularly touring overseas when he decided to launch a food-related business so his family could be taken care of while he was away. He also wanted to create a brand that was truly Bahamian.
Greg recalls: “Originally, we looked for companies to represent in the Bahamas. One of our first was Grace Foods and we were doing very well. We got a lot of information from selling those items to hotels and food stores, so that’s when we decided to develop our own brand in line with our culture.
“Our very first product was the Junkanoo hot pepper sauce, followed by the Original Bahamaian hot pepper sauce. After that we added the Goombay hot pepper sauce which comes in different colours because of the variation of the peppers. Right now, we make about 47 products.”
D’Vanya’s is currently on offer in hotels, restaurants, and stores in Nassau, but Greg plans to export his products around the rest of the Bahamas and overseas after receiving funds from the Caribbean Export Development Agency’s ‘Direct Support Grant Programme’ (2021).
New machinery will enhance production
Greg used the grant to buy new machinery to enhance production and worked with another company to improve D’Vanya’s digital marketing.
Greg says: “Year on year we were doing exceptionally well until 2020, when COVID came, and we suffered quite a loss. In 2021, our sales recovered by about 30% but we’re still not back to the levels we had before, so we were very excited to get the grant.
“We put the money to specific use and ordered new machinery which we’re waiting to receive any day now from China, that will help us scale up for export. We’re expecting our capacity to improve 300-fold with those machines. For instance, right now we produce about 80 to 90 cases of product in a day but with the new machines we’ll be able to do that amount in about two hours.”
Greg works directly with seven local farmers to supply his raw materials and employs three people full-time and one part-time in sales and production. He expects to need more staff if his export ambitions take off.
D’Vanya’s is already represented in North America and Mexico by an agent based in Florida called Silver Bay which manages sales through the company’s e-commerce website. Greg is also talking with a potential distributor in Canada and plans to look for another one in the UK to target Europe.
Greg is even aiming to break into the Chinese market where the D’Vanya’s name has already been trademarked.
“I really would like to get more working capital to hire more people and scale up quickly,” Greg states. “Then I would like to see our sales move from 95% domestic and 5% exports to 50% each which will bring in much needed foreign currency for the company and the country.”
Greg adds: “I also need to look for some land to build a state-of-the-art manufacturing facility which will require investors. I’m hoping that will be completed in about three to five years.”
In addition, Greg has recently joined with a local grilled food establishment to incorporate D’Vanya’s into its menu and offer the brand’s sauces and seasonings for sale. He is hoping this model can be replicated in other places to show how D’Vanya’s can be used to enhance a wide variety of dishes.
“Who knows,” Greg says, “maybe one day we’ll have a range of cultural events that we can cater for or even a D’Vanya’s franchise like KFC. Once people like the taste, they’ll buy the sauce, because they’ll want it for themselves to take home.”