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October 3, 2022

WaveGrip Helps Cayman Islands Brewery Thrive in Paradise

WaveGrip Helps Cayman Islands Brewery Thrive in Paradise

Islands are famous for their resorts, diving paradise, tropical climate and the cool refreshing taste of a beer in the sun.

For island breweries setting up to serve the local market and provide an authentic regional taste, there are considerable challenges to overcome. One leading light in this area is The Cayman Islands Brewery, established in 2007.
The company's goal was to produce world-class beers, including its signature Caybrew brand, that would complement the islands' authentic gastronomy, become a trademark of the region, and become a model for how island breweries can deliver sustainable growth.

As a result of an investment programme worth more than $10 million, The Cayman Islands Brewery has built a state-of-the-art, automated brewery on a three-acre site. The company has placed particular emphasis on environmentally friendly production and distribution, considering the fragile environment of the Cayman Islands.

Yet like all island breweries, this success depends on managing problems that land-locked companies do not face.

The challenges facing island breweries.

On the Cayman Islands, there is a high import market from the U.S., Europe and Jamaica. CIB has worked hard to combat competition from established international brands and has been able to achieve annual growth over five years - currently holding a 20% market share.

Have you ever wondered what it's like to brew beer on an island more than 8,500 kilometres from the nearest field where the malt grows? [This is the distance between the Cayman Islands and Germany, where the company ships its malt from.] Malt must be ordered more than a month in advance, and even if an extra batch is urgently needed, there is no way to speed up the process. Even a day’s delay can make a difference to production, so shortage of malt or delays in supply lead to big problems. Also, although malt can be stored, in humid, hot tropical climates, it will degrade faster, reducing the time it can be stored.

It isn’t only ingredients which must be imported. Apart from small items which can be sent by airfreight, everything must be shipped via sea, including all equipment. In the current climate, securing containers is difficult globally, as the COVID-19 pandemic, port congestion and labour shortages have caused an imbalance in the distribution of containers. This has an impact both on supply and on cost.

The impact of COVID has been double-edged. The Cayman Islands closed early to the outside world and the spread of the virus was contained. On the other hand, tourism was inevitably affected, and The Cayman Islands Brewery had to demonstrate ingenuity when installing new equipment – including its first machine from WaveGrip.

How WaveGrip is helping island breweries

There has been a shift in the Cayman Islands from bottles to cans, which are convenient and practical, recyclable, and easier and safer to take to the beach. Finding the right packaging partners to support growth in canning is a must. Island breweries are looking for speed, reliability and ease of maintenance, and the ability to choose sustainable materials. As The Cayman Islands Brewery’s Technical Manager, Chris Olson, explains: “The relationship with WaveGrip started in 2019. We decided to change one of our beers to a new ‘sleekline’ can design, which was taller and skinnier than our standard 12oz can shape. Our incumbent equipment manufacturer couldn’t adapt to this size, but WaveGrip machines could handle both can designs. ”Another advantage was speed.

“We updated our canning line to be faster – from 30 cans per minute, to 90 cans per minute. The application of the can carrier had to match this speed to avoid a bottleneck in production and WaveGrip delivers consistent, reliable results. It also helps that the way the WaveGrip machines are built makes it easier to source and replace spare parts.”

Crucially, installation was also a smooth process. “WaveGrip technicians couldn’t travel here Islands when it was time to set up the machine, due to COVID restrictions. Instead, the installation was done by our in-house maintenance team, supported remotely by WaveGrip, whose technicians then stayed in touch to iron out any ‘bugs’.”

Can carriers for island breweries

The Cayman Islands Brewery also likes WaveGrip’s approach to sustainability. WaveGrip can holders offer a cost-effective way of packaging cans in multiple layers. They contain up to 52.5% post-consumer recycled content (PCR) and are photo degradable.

The company is currently look at moving towards WaveGrip’s cardboard carriers. “We haven’t done so previously because the price per unit was too high to pass to the consumer. However, WaveGrip’s continued investment in product development is making it viable, so we’re looking seriously at its cardboard applicator.”
So next time you’re in paradise, enjoying the sea breeze and admiring the palm trees with a can of Caybrew, consider how WaveGrip is continuing to help island breweries to deliver great-tasting beer.

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