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Can-do attitude: NLC's Rock Spirits facility begins production in St. John's

The production line for Lamb's Sociable was officially launched Tuesday at the Rock Spirits facility in St. John's. — Andrew Robinson/The Telegram
The production line for Lamb's Sociable was officially launched Tuesday at the Rock Spirits facility in St. John's. — Andrew Robinson/The Telegram - Andrew Robinson

New canning system allows Crown agency to expand operations

The production launch for a popular ready-to-drink beverage is giving a further boost to the Newfoundland and Labrador Liquor Corp.’s manufacturing division.

On Tuesday, Rock Spirits officially launched production of Lamb’s Sociable’s pineapple and green apple flavours, making it the exclusive producer for those products, of which 12,000 cases were sold last year in Newfoundland and Labrador. That work is happening thanks to a new canning line set up at Rock Spirits’ blending and bottling facility in St. John’s.

The production arrangement is part of a five-year agreement between the NLC and Corby Spirit and Wine Limited, the company that owns the Lamb’s brand. The deal was originally announced in April.

“We’re really excited about the new partnership with Corby,” NLC president and CEO Bruce Keating said Tuesday during an event at the facility open to media and invited guests. “We are really excited to bring that production into Rock Spirits, and that’s a major step in the direction we want to go as we launch the canning line.”



International reach

The Rock Spirits facility employs 45 workers. In the last year, it has produced over 280,000 cases of product. While a fair chunk of that product — 22 per cent — is sold in Newfoundland and Labrador, most of it goes elsewhere. About 46 per cent of the product produced at the Rock Spirits facility is sold in other parts of Canada, with the remaining 32 per cent sold internationally in 34 countries.

“It’s remarkable to walk in here and then look at this operation, but realize the reach that it has right around the globe in terms of where the products go,” Keating said.


A Rock Spirits employee grabs an empty Crystal Head Vodka bottle to add to the production line. — Andrew Robinson/The Telegram
A Rock Spirits employee grabs an empty Crystal Head Vodka bottle to add to the production line. — Andrew Robinson/The Telegram

The new canning line allows Rock Spirits to produce 75,000 cases annually. Keating said this investment makes sense given the shifts witnessed in what people are buying, calling ready-to-drink beverages like those produced under the Lamb’s Sociable brand as a high-growth area.

Big brand

The Lamb’s brand is a big deal in Newfoundland and Labrador, with its Palm Breeze rum representing the No. 1 selling product for the NLC with over 89,000 cases sold annually. That figure represents almost $30 million in retail sales.

“We look forward to continuing and building on the partnership with Lamb’s,” Keating said. “We believe this opportunity is of tremendous benefit to Rock Spirits, to the Corporation and to the province, given the relationship between NLC in helping provide funding for government.”



Kristina Stevenson, left, operations for the Newfoundland and Labrador Liquor Corporation's manufacturing division Rock Spirits, discusses the products it produces in St. John's with Tourism, Culture, Arts and Recreation Minister Bernard Davis, Finance Minister Siobhan Coady and NLC CEO Bruce Keating. — Andrew Robinson/The Telegram
Kristina Stevenson, left, operations for the Newfoundland and Labrador Liquor Corporation's manufacturing division Rock Spirits, discusses the products it produces in St. John's with Tourism, Culture, Arts and Recreation Minister Bernard Davis, Finance Minister Siobhan Coady and NLC CEO Bruce Keating. — Andrew Robinson/The Telegram

Through the canning line, Rock Spirits is also producing its own new Screech-branded ready-to-drink beverages.

Corby regional manager Rick Hollihan said his company and the NLC have shown a mutual ability to adapt and react to changes in the market.

“We’re delighted to now produce Lamb’s Sociable in the province and continue to support the local economy,” he said.

Twitter: @CBNAndrew


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