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Jamaica Broilers contract farmers to invest $700m in new poultry houses

Published:Thursday | January 7, 2016 | 1:09 PMTameka Gordon

Farmers contracted to Jamaica Broilers Group are expected to inject a combined $700 million into additional poultry houses by the end of the first half of this year, the company said Thursday.

The investment will translate to roughly a 25 per cent increase in capacity “that should go a far way in terms of meeting the potential additional demand that might be on the horizon,”  senior vice president of operations and finance, Ian Parsard, told Financial Gleaner. The expected increase would translate to an additional 48,000 birds.

Coming off the peak Christmas season, poultry is in high demand but supplies are falling short.

“We are looking at eight existing farmers who would be putting up new houses, an additional five or so new farmers who are looking to enter the business, and a couple of farmers who are expanding on existing poultry houses,” Parsard said, while noting that the $700 million is to be spent entirely by the farmers.

New entrants typically invest a minimum $80 million to build at least two chicken houses.

Jamaica Broilers will also commission another hatchery in the coming weeks, which is expected to increase capacity for the production of baby chicks by 12 per cent, Parsard said, but was otherwise tight-lipped on the hatchery project ahead of its official launch.

He said, despite the fluctuating demands of the market,  the company is bullish on business.

“Right now, we are in the high period because there is a lot of money in the system spilling over form Christmas. So, as to whether the demand will stay at this heightened level is yet to be seen, but overall we feel bullish and we are putting plans in place to enable us to accommodate the increased demand,” he said.

The company has been ramping up production leading up to the peak shopping season.

“From November, we had increased (production) by 14 per cent. December we increased by approximately 17 per cent and going forward in January, we are looking for 17 per cent and 20 per cent for February,” he said.

As output increased, Jamaica Broilers moved to double shifts and added 140 production staff.

“We introduced it the last half of 2015. In doing this, we were able to increase the processing capacity of the plant by roughly 15 to 20 per cent,” said Parsard.

The expansion of the poultry houses will also feed into the supply of baby chicks to small farmers who grow chickens for their own markets, he said.

tameka.gordon@gleanerjm.com