Fri | Feb 28, 2020

Jamaica Broilers scales back in Haiti

Published:Wednesday | December 11, 2019 | 12:25 AM
Ian Parsard, senior vice-president of finance, Jamaica Broilers Group Limited.
Ian Parsard, senior vice-president of finance, Jamaica Broilers Group Limited.

Jamaica Broilers Group Limited has scaled back operations in Haiti to mitigate losses there.

A year ago, Haiti made six-month profit of $85 million for the poultry company but for the comparative period ending October 2019 that was all erased. Haiti booked a loss of $6 million in the current period.

Jamaica Broilers continues to monitor operations in the crisis-ridden country on a daily basis. But in the meantime, it has cut staff “in the order of 25 per cent or so” and shuttered the poultry processing side of the operation, according to Senior Vice President of Finance, Ian Parsard.

“We have reduced the scope of the business to have them focus on the production and sale of table eggs. They are no longer processing chickens in Haiti and we are scaling down the other areas of the business in terms of supply of chicks and feed into the market,” Parsard told the Financial Gleaner.

Public protests have been ongoing in Haiti for more than year to force President Jovenel Moïse from office. More than 40 people have been reported killed and dozens injured as protesters clashed with police. Moïse has called for dialogue.

Several businesses have either downscaled or shuttered operations during the crisis.

Jamaica Broilers says its future actions will be dictated by evolving conditions in the country.

“This is something that is extremely dynamic and it is something that we will be constantly looking at on a day-to-day basis. What we do, whether it gets worse or better, will depend on the daily assessment,” Parsard said.

Despite its challenges in Haiti, profit at Jamaica Broilers improved from $629 million to $6836 million at half-year. Sales ticked up two per cent to $26.3 billion.

Parsard said the gains at the bottom line came from the Jamaica operations, due to increased poultry sales and enhanced inventory management.

“A lot of it came down to having a better rotation programme and maintaining the integrity of the finished product in inventory. Last year’s comparative results were impacted by some losses that we’d incurred as a result of inventory management,” Parsard explained, noting that the improvements had to do with operational issues rather than personnel or technology.

“I would say new management systems were put in place; basic things, such as vigilantly monitoring temperatures in holding rooms and actually practising first-in-first-out (FIFO). It may seem like a simple thing to execute but it can become something of a logistical challenge,” he said.

Jamaica contributed 65 per cent of group revenue, while the American operations contributed 32 per cent amid expansion of operations in that market.

“In September we acquired the processing plant in North Carolina and so going forward you are likely to see more stepping up so to speak in the US operations,” the VP said, adding that the company is becoming more and more comfortable as it diversifies in the United States.

“We started in the breeder flock that produced fertile eggs then we diversified into baby chicks with the acquisition of the hatchery. We are now in the feed business with the acquisition of the feed mill and this year we have a processing plant so that completes the vertical integration cycle,” he said.

The company is now more comfortable about expanding its geographical reach even further, Parsard added, while naming Ukraine as one such prospect.

neville.graham@gleanerjm.com