Christopher Serju, Gleaner Writer
CONSUMERS WILL soon be slapped with another hike in the cost of chicken meat and by year end could be paying as much as 20 per cent more per pound than they did in January.
An industry source on Wednesday disclosed that another increase is inevitable in light of the combination of the sliding exchange rate, price of corn on the United States market and the double-digit increase in electricity rate for September, announced by the Jamaica Public Service Company.
Contacted for a comment, Dr Keith Amiel, manager of corporate affairs at Caribbean Broilers, was non-committal.
"It's too premature to say anything yet, as everything is being reviewed," Amiel told The Gleaner.
Meanwhile, efforts to get a comment from Christopher Levy, chief executive officer of Jamaica Broilers, proved futile as, despite a message left on his mobile phone, up to press time he could not be reached.
Turning to another matter, Amiel dismissed claims by poultry farmers who are up in arms about the contract rates they are paid, describing them as unfeasible.
However, Amiel pointed to a 20 per cent increase in contract rates paid for the meat over last year; a $50,000-subsidy-per-chicken-house for electricity for each grow-out period, with the company reviewing other aspects of its contractual arrangement.
However, George Robertson, a member of the Middleton Poultry Farmers Association, whose farm is located in Bushy Park, Clarendon, described the rate as unreasonable. In fact, having supplied the company with chickens over the last 13 years, he said the last five years have been at a loss.
"We don't feel that we can continue, because right now what you end up doing is in a number of cases, borrowing money from your wife, you sister, whoever it is, to sustain your operations," he told The Gleaner during a visit to his farm on Wednesday. After failing to reach an amicable agreement with the company, the group has called a meeting for the end of this month to review their operations and make a determination about continuing in the poultry business.