NOVO Farms, a multimillion dollar state-of-the-art agro-processing facility has started production of its LIFE brand of products, with the products already in Massy Stores throughout the country.

LIFE offers a wide selection of chilled machine-cut and thoroughly washed vegetables, salads and frozen foods with its emphasis on encouraging healthy eating. All LIFE food products are naturally grown and sourced right here in T&T.

“We had a country wide launch with little to no advertising. Remarkably we were able to achieve over 80 per cent sell through within the first week. Customer feedback was overly positive, indicating that they were immediately attracted to the stylish high quality packaging and the unique, wide range of available products,” said Chevon Wilson, the newly recruited CEO of Novo Farms.

Wilson, who was vice president of Mobile Services at the majority State-owned Telecommunications Services of T&T until recently, said the LIFE brand is all about encouraging good health.

“It is about living up to our brand promise and ensuring we provide convenience, affordability and easy access to high quality, healthy food. The Novo Farms facility is unlike any other in the entire Caribbean, and the products we provide are of the highest international quality and standards,” said Wilson.

He joined Novo Farms as CEO when chairman and founder of Novo Group, Glen Ramdhani invited him to help build the company’s retail strategy and consumer brand LIFE.

“One of the mandates given by Mr Ramdhani to the team is to ensure high-quality, world-class, international-appealing design with regard to the packaging and the look of the products. The goal is to raise the standard of fresh, locally produced agriculture products,” said Wilson.

He said the focus of the LIFE products is to satisfy the appetite of consumers on the go, who have less time to prepare meals at home, but at the same time are looking for a variety of healthy and high quality options.

While the LIFE products are definitely about the health of consumers, it is equally about the health of the local economy as well. Novo Farms is focusing the LIFE brand on ensuring sustainable food production and to achieve this working with local farmers and suppliers throughout Trinidad and Tobago

The LIFE brand attracted the nation’s largest supermarket chain, Massy Stores, executives of which visited Novo Farms and were impressed by the facility.

“We really love what LIFE is able to bring to the table with regards to the high quality, healthy options and the convenience it offers our customers. The facility is fantastic, clean, innovative and modern. Also the tremendous value the brand offers to local farmers is something we fully support,” said Roxane de Freitas, CEO, Massy Stores.

For Massy Stores, working with the LIFE brand was an exciting prospect for the popular supermarket chain.

“With our LIFE brand, we want to be a positive part of the ecosystem that moves the whole agriculture industry forward.” said Wilson who added, “Novo Farms is thankful for the support received from many stakeholders including the Ministry of Agriculture, Namdevco, IICA and many more. We are especially thankful for the dedicated, hardworking team behind LIFE brand who has made this possible.”

In the September 22 edition of Express Business, technology entrepreneur, Glen Ramdhani, said he had invested $60 million in establishing the ultra-modern agro-processing facility, which is located at the Point Lisas Business Park.

In an interview in September, Ramdhani said 50 per cent of the project cost was debt with the balance being equity.

Four years ago, Ramdhani established Novo Farms, setting up an agri-tech start-up organic farm, that was successful in growing foreign crops using a trademark technology platform to replicate the temperate climatic conditions right here in Trinidad and Tobago.

Ramdhani told Express Business in September that initial attempt at growing food crops was research and development for the brand new agro-processing and packaging facility.

He noted that the facility is being commissioned at the right time as the Covid-19 pandemic has disrupted the supply of food worldwide sending prices soaring. That coupled with the lack of availability of foreign exchange locally has meant local food producers, distributors, retailers and consumers have been left feeling the sting of the pandemic.

Ramdhani said he hopes the Novo Farms facility will alleviate the stress on the food supply ecosystem and satisfy the hunger of local farmers for better processing options as well as affordable prices.

Speaking last month, Ramdhani also told Express Business about his plans for the Novos own retail brand.

“The investment we have made into this facility is not just to satisfy present day demand, we have comprehensively integrated sufficient ca pacity into the production planning with the future in mind,” he said..
Ramdhani said Novo has also incorporated its wealth of technological experience into the facility by having the ability to monitor crop data analytics and trace elements from source (farmer’s produce). The technology implemented will also include artificial intelligence creating a new retail experience.

“It is an ‘all-of-Novo’ brainchild, which was initiated over three years ago, where we have taken our technological capabilities and assimilated its services into the agro-processing initiative, providing a full scale experience from farmer to consumer. We will also soon launch in the next few weeks a new retail experience using artificial intelligence where the public can interact, transact and consume products fresh from our facility,” the Novo founder said.

He said he genuinely believes his agro-processing facility will sow the seeds of a revolution in local food production.

“We want to encourage and incentivise farmers to produce more and, by creating a processing house to consume locally farmed produce, will assist them in selling off their vol umes to us, minimising wastage and generating a fair return for their hard work and providing the motivation for them,” Ramdhani said.

The 38-year-old Ramdhani is the founder and executive chairman of the Novo Group, which until recently was known as a technology company with media and communications divisions.

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