Sat | Sep 23, 2017

Jamaica Broilers to sell more products in Cayman, eyes bigger Caribbean markets

Published:Wednesday | August 2, 2017 | 8:00 AMAvia Collinder

Jamaica Broilers Group is soon to introduce burgers and hot dogs and sausages to the Cayman Islands market, under plans to boost its regional exports.

The poultry group began talking up its Caribbean footprint after local rival CB Foods diversified into fresh foods and indicated it was preparing to go after markets overseas.

Jamaica Broilers has sold chicken to Cayman for around 25 years. And while export manager for Best Dressed Chicken, Trevin Nairne, declined to name all the Caribbean markets in which the poultry company sells it is goods, its understood that it's as much as 10 and are known to include St Kitts-Nevis, Cayman, Turks & Caicos and St Martin.

Nairne says chicken export volumes to Caribbean markets grew by 40 per cent year over year for the last three years. The value of those markets was undisclosed, but Jamaica Broilers total exports are estimated at around US$5 million in total.

"We are trying to build out each market in terms of penetration," he said, but offered no estimate of how much growth is targeted.

The value of Jamaica Broilers exports from its home base to foreign markets translates to around $600 million, a fraction of its annual revenue, which now tops $44 billion.

The group otherwise operates subsidiaries in Haiti and the United States, which supports those markets.

In Haiti, Jamaica Broilers produces chicken locally, as it does in Jamaica, where production occurs on its own farms and supplies are augmented by contract farmers under licence.

Cayman is the second-largest market for broiler meat behind Jamaica. The company controls 30 per cent of the Cayman market, according to Nairne, who says volumes are driven by the tourist trade but the main buyers are restaurants, which number over 400 in a population of 60,000 people.

 

Hotels not all-inclusive

 

"Cayman does not have all-inclusive hotels," he said, explaining the large patronage of restaurants by tourists. All-inclusive hotels provide food on property - the cost of which is included in room rates.

Over two decades, volumes for Cayman have grown to four containers monthly, with each container holding 40,000 pounds of free range chicken. This compares to the very first export of 10 cases 25 years ago.

Its competitors in that market include local processors as well as American and Brazilian companies.

In more recent times, the company has made inroads in other island markets with its free range chicken - that is, chicken raised in open conditions, with constant access to the outdoors.

Free range, Nairne said, was more expensive to produce, but was increasingly in demand by health-conscious consumers. Best Dressed is trying to gain traction by pushing its product as "hormone free, cleaner and better tasting".

"The US brands sell on such a large scale that not much space is left for relationship building," he said. But: "We interact," he added.

Citing an example, he said that on the morning of his interview with Gleaner Business, he had called a customer in St Martin direct to answer a question about Jamaica Broilers products posted on social media. The strategy, he said, is appreciated.

The company has also ramped up marketing spend on the sponsorship of food events and independence celebrations across the region, Nairne said.

avia.collinder@gleanerjm.com