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Jamaica Broilers eyes 60 per cent of Haitian egg market

Published:Friday | January 23, 2015 | 12:00 AM

Tameka Gordon, Business Reporter

The Haitian operation of Jamaica Broilers Group now commands 15 to 18 per cent of the table egg market in that country, says President and Chief Executive Officer Christopher Levy.

But the company hopes to grab 50 per cent to 60 per cent of that market in the long term, Levy told journalist at a media tour of the poultry company's hatchery, Hi-Pro Ace superstore and processing plant on Wednesday. It is now mulling plans for expansion.

"That's what we are working on now. It takes a lot of planning because you are dealing with live animals and a fair amount of investments," Levy said.

While sales in the neighbouring French-speaking Caribbean island has to now "not moved our needle one way or another," Levy said, Jamaica Broilers hopes to "nurse" the market toward a greater contribution to the bottom line.

"The Haiti brand, now, in terms of JBG is very, very small. But you want to invest in niches that are going to become segments. Right now, Haiti is a small niche. We are building it from ground zero and all the effort that is required to build a good business is what we are going through now," Levy told journalists on the media tour.

Jamaica Broilers entered Haiti some three years ago with an initial US$2 million to US$3 million investment. The investment converted to around 80-122 million Haitian gourde.

The poultry company now has some 20 hatcheries and there with plans to increase that number with the growth of the market, Levy said.

A Tremendous Operation

"The big part of our business in Haiti is table eggs. In Haiti, it's a big part of their diet," he said.

The meat-and-egg producer also sells its Best Dressed poultry there under the brand Le Chic Poulet.

"We started a tremendous operation over there and it is really looking positive going forward," he said.

"We are at a point in Haiti Broilers were the proof of concept has been realised; the ability to produce and sell table eggs over there competitively has been realised," he added.

The Haitian operations are now at breakeven, with the company now assessing avenues for future investments that can deliver targeted growth in the next three to five years.

Haiti Broilers is expected to eventually contribute US$2 million to US$3 million in annual revenue to the group.

"The market over there has the capacity to grow beyond what is being supplied now," said Levy.

The earning level among Haiti's 10-million populace "is considerably lower but their dollar is stronger than ours," said the JBG president.

It takes J$2.46 to buy one Haitian gourde, according to Bank of Jamaica data.

"We are actually trading and doing business in a stronger currency than our Jamaican dollar which, again, is good for a Jamaican company," Levy said.

JBG's operations in Haiti is supported by contract farmers, similar to the set-up in Jamaica, but there the farmers are not directly contracted to the company. Instead, their products are supplied through non-governmental organisations.

"Small farming over there is a totally different model than how we conceived it here. We contract with an NGO, and they then will contract three people to farm. That one-on-one relation, in terms of Haiti, requires a lot more than our farmers here, in terms of finance, management and logistics," Levy said.

Jamaican farmers are able to access financing on their own, but for the Haitians this process is aided by the NGOs.

JBG has about 150,000 layers for the Haitian market now but plans to double that to 300,000 birds in 24 months, Levy said.

tameka.gordon@gleanerjm.com