Seaman's brands to stay, Pepsi says

Wayne Thibodeau wthibodeau@theguardian.pe.ca
Published on April 8, 2008

Seaman's olde fashioned orange, cream soda, lime rickey and ginger ale will still line store shelves after canned pop hits the Island next month, The Pepsi Bottling Group announced Monday.
The Prince Edward Island brand will be packaged in 355-ml cans and 12 packs, and 591-ml and two- litre plastic bottles as soon as the province ditches glass bottles for cans and plastic May 1. The packaging will look very similar to what is produced now, with the addition of a new slogan "Prince Edward Island's soft drink."
The pop will no longer be produced on the Island, though. It will be produced at Pepsi's production facilities in Moncton, N.B.
Steve Chiasson, Pepsi Bottling Group's vice-president and general manager for Atlantic Canada, says they're excited they can keep the Seaman's brands alive.
"When we started looking at this thing, we just didn't know if we were going to be able to make it happen," Chiasson said in an interview with The Guardian from Toronto.
"(Islanders) supported our business so tremendously over the years, and they've been very outspoken that this is something they care about and want."
Chiasson said his staff were simply blown away at the number of comments on The Guardian's website from Islanders who wanted to keep the Seaman's brand alive.
"We said, 'if we have the opportunity to make it happen, then let's make it happen'."
Pepsi will provide P.E.I. with a full array of leading beverage brands in cans and plastic bottles, such as AMP and Monster Energy, Aquafina Sparkling and Dole Sparklers.
But Pepsi will not sell its competing Orange Crush in the P.E.I. market. Orange Crush is what Pepsi sells in place of Seaman's orange in markets outside of Prince Edward Island.
Chiasson said Seaman's brands have a special place on the Island and that wasn't lost on the number crunchers.
"Prince Edward Island has traditionally been one of our best markets in the world," he said. "Seaman's brands do much better than our traditional flavour portfolio does in other markets."
Production will wind down within days at The Pepsi Bottling Group's Charlottetown plant. The Pepsi Bottling Group acquired the bottling facility from Seaman's Beverages in July 2002.
Pepsi employs about 85 people on the Island. About 30 worked in production and received layoff notices as a result of provincial government's decision to bring canned pop into the province.
Chiasson said some of those 30 will be offered jobs in distribution or in Moncton, which is increasing its production schedule for the P.E.I. market. That also includes the new production line needed to produce Seaman's beverages.
"We've been planning production in Moncton and P.E.I. together, to make sure they are complementing each other. For us to get Prince Edward Island up and running - it's been a lot of work co-ordinating exactly what brands the P.E.I. market is going to need."