Barry Bowen

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Barry Mansfield Bowen KCMG (September 19, 1945 – February 26, 2010) was a Belizean bottling magnate, politician and entrepreneur. His business interests included Bowen and Bowen, Ltd. which bottles Coca-Cola products in Belize, and the Belize Brewing Company, which brews Belikin Beer. Bowen also served as a Senator in the National Assembly of Belize and the financier of the People's United Party. In December 2007, Queen Elizabeth II knighted Bowen as a Knight Commander of the Order of St Michael and St George. Bowen was the second wealthiest citizen of Belize at the time of his death.[1]


A seventh-generation Belizean, Bowen was born to Eric William Manfield Bowen, OBE, JP and Emilie Josephine Bowen, in Belize City in what was then called British Honduras on September 19, 1945. Eric Bowen, originally from San Ignacio, Cayo District, founded Bowen & Bowen, Ltd, a general trading company, in 1932 with his brother. Bowen & Bowen would eventually grow into Belize's largest bottler under his son, Barry.[2]

Bowen completed high school at Brooks School and went on to attend Cornell University and Bucknell University before returning to work with his father in 1965. Bowen became the General Managing Director of the company in 1968 and oversaw its growth into Belize’s largest bottler.[3]

Bowen believed there was a market in Belize for locally produced beer, and in the late 1960s he commissioned a feasibility study. Despite the study’s determination that the Belizean market was too small to support its own brewery, he persuaded his father it would be a good investment. After 15 months of negotiating a Development Concession, Belize Brewing Company was established in 1969, and Barry and Eric partnered with Cerveceria Hondureña S.A. (CHSA). Two years later Belikin Beer was introduced to the market. The partnership with CHSA lasted a decade thereafter Bowen & Bowen acquired full control of the company on December 20, 1980.[4]


Barry Bowen purchased Bowen & Bowen from his father in 1977. Before Belikin, most Belizeans drank imported Guinness Stout or Heineken. Because of laws favouring domestic production over imports, the locally owned Belize Brewing Company now controls most of the local beer market. Aside from Belikin Beer, the Belize Brewing Company brews Lighthouse Lager, Belikin Premium, and Belikin Stout, as well as Guinness Foreign Extra Stout under a licensing agreement.[5]

In 1984 Bowen purchased the Belize Estate & Produce Company, which had exported mahogany and chicle during the first half of the twentieth century and still owned of 750,000 acres of Belizean land. He divided the land into four parcels, turning ownership of most to conservancy groups like the Programme for Belize. On one 130,000- acre (530 km2) parcel in the Orange Walk District he established Gallon Jug Estate, a private nature reserve. Within Gallon Jug is the Chan Chich Lodge, a world-famous rainforest / bird watching hotel nestled among ancient Mayan sites, and Gallon Jug Agroindustries, a 3,000-acre organic experimental farm producing cacao and cattle. The farm is also the only commercial coffee grower in Belize.[6]

Bowen also owned Belize Aquaculture Ltd, a shrimp farm located near the village of Placencia, Stann Creek District, and a Ford and Kia dealership in Belize City. He served as a partner and director of Belize Airways Ltd, established in 1976, which was the country's first national airline.[7]


Queen Elizabeth II, on the advice of Her Majesty’s Belize Ministers, appointed Barry Manfield Bowed on December 27, 2007, a Knight Commander to the Order of Saint Michael and Saint George, (KCMG), for contribution to commerce and industry.[8]


Bowen died on February 26, 2010, when the Cessna 206 he was piloting crashed on approach to the airstrip at San Pedro Town, Ambergris Caye, Belize District. He was 64 years old. The crash also killed Michael Casey and Jill Casey, teachers at Gallon Jug Casey Community School on Bowen's Gallon Jug Estate, and their children, Makayla and Bryce, who were from Albany, New York. Bowen was survived by his wife, Dixie, Lady Bowen, six children, and nine grandchildren.

Sir Barry Bowen was granted a state funeral on March 2, 2010, which was attended by Prime Minister Hon. Dean Barrow and his wife, leader of the opposition, Hon. Johnny Briceño, former Prime Minister Rt. Hon. Said Musa and other dignitaries. The funeral was held at St. John's Cathedral, Belize City. He was buried with his parents in San Ignacio Town, Cayo District.[9]