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Jamaica Broilers invests US$2m in feed mill expansion

Published:Thursday | December 14, 2017 | 12:00 AMSteven Jackson
In this June 6 photo, President & CEO of Jamaica Broilers Group Christopher Levy and Minister of Industry and Agriculture Karl Samuda play with live chicks at the Denbigh Agricultural Show. Samuda on Thursday, December 14, warned the company to be alert to foreign competition.

The Jamaica Broilers Group invested US$2 million to expand its pellet mill, allowing the conglomerate to double feed production capacity.

Pellet capacity will grow from 40 tonnes to 80 tonnes per hour, said John Carberry, general operations manager at Thursday's commissioning of the Best Dressed Feed Mill, which will produce Hi-Pro feeds.

It will move the production of Hi-Pro feeds from over 270,000 tonnes per year to 350,000 tonnes, initially. The mill has the capacity to ramp up to 540,000 tonnes if demand warrants it.

"You have to have the capacity before you can increase production," said Carberry. He described the mill as the largest single mill in the English or Latin Caribbean. It is also the third mill operated by Jamaica Broilers to manufacture Hi-Pro branded products.

Speaking at the commissioning ceremony, the Minister of Industry, Commerce and Agriculture Karl Samuda urged Jamaica Broilers to continue its drive for increased efficiency as a bulwark against foreign competition.

"As you build and grow, make sure you never take off your eye, after being more and more competitive. The disadvantage is that you have to compete against dumped products. We have to ensure that while we safeguard against, that in our processes we are as competitive as possible," said Samuda. He also urged Jamaica Broilers to produce the grain using as much local input as possible.

In the poultry sector, small farmers account for 30 per cent of the local industry, with the remaining 70 per cent split between Jamaica Broilers and rival CB Group.

"But let me warn you, there are forces, mainly outside of Jamaica, who want to introduce in Jamaica poultry meat grown elsewhere in the region with foreign hands, with no involvement in the domestic economy, and, enter Jamaica. That would signal the death knell in Jamaica. That will not happen under my watch," Samuda said.

The feed mill was expanded because of rising demand for poultry, which means farmers are growing more birds in need of feeding.

"We have had to invest to keep pace of the growth we are experiencing," said Jamaica Broilers President and CEO Christopher Levy.

Jamaican farmers produce about 2.5 million to three million kilos of broiler meat weekly for local consumption. There are over 100,000 small broiler farmers, most of whom are women. Additionally, local farmers produce 5.4 million eggs a week, according to the Caribbean Poultry Association.

Jamaica Broilers, the top poultry company, reported net profit of $466 million for the second quarter ending October 2017, a narrow gain on the $439 million earned in the 2016 quarter. However, profit is down over the half-year, from $845 million to $658 million. Sales have risen over the same six-month period, from $20 billion to $23 billion.