Fri | Apr 20, 2018

CB relocating largest poultry processing plant to Hill Run

Published:Friday | February 23, 2018 | 12:00 AM
Dr Keith Amiel, head of corporate affairs at CB Group.

CB Group will be shipping staff from its poultry-processing facility on Arnold Road in Kingston to Hill Run, St Catherine, further consolidating operations at its new home base, called The Nest.

A new plant is being developed at Hill Run, which means that only useful equipment at the Arnold Road facility will be transferred, according to Dr Keith Amiel, the head of corporate affairs at CB Group.

Amiel says the relocation will be executed in phases, over 18 months, when

the newly equipped and computerised plant is expected to be up and running at Hill Run. It will allow CB to increase output, as well as double production by doubling shifts and operating around the clock when needed.

Most of the 300 people employed at Arnold Road - which is now CB's largest processing plant, producing up to 100,000 chickens per day - are headed for Hill Run, and trained in operating the more sophisticated system being installed there.

CB Group, which has operated at Arnold Road for 29 years, dating from 1989, is yet to make a decision on what to do with the property when the relocation is complete.

US$120m relocation plan

The poultry company announced a US$120-million ($15 billion) plan in late 2017 to consolidate its operations at its 1,000-acre property at Hill Run over seven years.

The Nest will include a livestock research centre, over 500 acres of farm for its new crop division, called Imagination Farms, a poultry-processing plant, as well as a protein recovery plant.

However, Amiel on Wednesday listed a number of businesses that will remain independent of The Nest.

Copperwood, which produces hams, pork, sausages and other processed meats, will continue to operate from its main processing plant at Haughton Court in Lucea, Hanover, and an outlet at Slipe Road in Kingston.

Nutramix will remain at its Newport East location in Kingston, but will be upgraded to improve storage capacity and install more modern milling equipment.

CB will also be keeping its main storage plant at Longville Park on Salt River Road in St Catherine. Amiel said the Longville facility exceeds the company's needs, and that some storage there is leased to other local manufacturers.

Amid the consolidation of operations, CB is positioning for new export markets. Amiel said the company is already the largest source of animal feeds to Caricom, but is also hoping to add markets for its meats and other products.

Earlier this month, CB shipped rotisserie chicken to Dominica.

The company is targeting a range of 48 foods for import substitution at home, and export to markets such as the United States. It is also eyeing a more ambitious sea island cotton operation, which includes plans to increase land under cultivation to 1,000 acres.

Amiel sees one potential constraint - the availability of labour - saying so far, it's mainly women in St Catherine who are volunteering for work with sea island cotton, which he described as "very labour-intensive", requiring two workers per acre.

Amiel says CB was likely the world's largest producer of sea island cotton at this point, which would mean it had overtaken Barbados. CB's cotton is exported to Japan and parts of Europe, he said.

avia.collinder@gleanerjm.com