Fowl fight - poultry kings in war of words over chicken feed
McPherse Thompson, Assistant Editor - Business
The Jamaica Broilers Group, in a swipe at its competitor, Caribbean Broilers, has rejected the idea of converting chicken waste parts into ingredients for the manufacturing of poultry feed to reduce the dependency on expensive grains sourced on the international market.
But Caribbean Broilers has hit back, saying it considered a statement by Jamaica Broilers emphasising that that company does "not feed chicken to chicken" as gimmickry, distortion, and mischief, and it would be responding with the aim of objectively informing the public about the issues in-volved.
Caribbean Broilers reportedly submitted a pro-ject document to the National Environment and Planning Agency earlier this year outlining its intentions to establish a protein recovery facility that would convert the chicken waste.
The company produces up to 80,000 chickens per day, according to Manager for Corporate Affairs Dr Keith Amiel, and products fashioned from the recovered poultry material could provide a sustainable source of raw material that would substitute imported materials used in Caribbean Broilers' feed mill.
However, asked if Jamaica Broilers would follow Caribbean Broilers' lead in converting chicken waste into feed, President and Chief Executive Christopher Levy told Sunday Business: "We do not feed chicken to chicken."
He was responding to queries during an introductory tour by Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries Robert Montaque of Jamaica Broilers' processing plant as well as its feed mill, Hi-Pro Feeds, in Old Harbour, St Catherine, on Thursday.
Levy said the company took the decision some years ago that Jamaica Broilers wanted all its products to be wholesome, and, therefore, would not have waste parts - such as feathers, blood, and offals, the latter consisting of heads, windpipes, and intestines - rendered and fed back to their chickens.
The decision, he said, was informed by three main factors: issues of salmonella food poisoning, public perceptions about products used in the farming of chicken, and the reality that the export market does not want it to be used in the production process.
Levy said tons of chicken waste processed at the Old Harbour plant was being disposed of in a landfill, but Jamaica Broilers would be entering into a contract to export it. He emphasised that the company had no interest in using the rendered waste.
"That product is not coming into our feed. No meat is coming back into our meat," said Levy
Jamaica Broilers, he said, has done all due diligence before arriving at that decision, informed in part by international concerns sparked by the onset of bovine spongiform encephalopathy, better known as mad cow disease, arising from the feeding of cattle waste to cattle in the United States.
Jamaica Broilers controls about 40 per cent of the local chicken market, processing about 12,000 chickens per hour, or about 100,000 per day, while its closest rival, Caribbean Broilers, handles up to 80,000 birds per day, taking control of about 35-40 per cent of the market.
The remainder is controlled by about 10,000 small farmers, according to Levy.
Jamaica Broilers announcement
But it was an advertisement by Jamaica Broilers in Friday's edition of The Gleaner that incensed the competition.
In the announcement, Jamaica Broilers said it wished to inform its customers and stakeholders that none of its locally produced feeds contained any form of chicken waste or by-products, and in particular, "that the company does not feed chicken to chicken".
It said all feeds produced under the company's brand, Hi-Pro Feeds - which makes about 30 different brands - are manufactured primarily from corn and soya.
"Despite the high costs of imported grains, the recycling of animal waste or by-products in our Hi-Pro Quality Feeds is not an option for our company now, or in the future," said the advert.
Contacted on Friday, Amiel said a final decision had not yet been made about the project because due diligence was being conducted, but converting chicken waste was usable, for example, as a pet food fertiliser, and was exportable.
While alluding to the economic potential of rendering the waste into animal feed and other uses, he said a decision had not yet been made as to where such poultry-based feed would be used.
"The equipment for the plant has not even been purchased, we have not settled on the type of equipment," he said, adding that Caribbean Broilers was exploring how to make the company more productive and efficient.
Emphasising that the company would respond to Jamaica Broilers, Amiel said, "We won't allow this mischief to prevail." He said that in its official response, Caribbean Broilers would be objective in informing the public about the issues involved and the company's intentions, matters which company officials discussed at a public meeting at the Port Esquivel Sports Club in St Catherine in August.
"We find it trite," said the corporate affairs manager, adding that "we'll not be intimidated by mischief. We're not amused by mischief."