Wed | Oct 4, 2023

Small chicken farmers to hike prices

Published:Saturday | January 22, 2022 | 12:09 AMAinsworth Morris/Staff Reporter

Lenworth Fulton, president of the Jamaica Agricultural Society (JAS), is warning consumers to brace for an increase in the price of chicken from small farmers across the island beginning month-end.

This follows the announcement by Jamaica Broilers Group Limited’s (JBG) to increase chicken prices by 10 per cent at the end of the month.

Fulton told The Gleaner on Friday that the percentage increase from small farmers would not be a fixed per cent figure.

“They [small farmers] will have to increase too because a major part of the problem is the cost of feed. They will have to buy the feeding at higher costs … and the increases won’t be uniform throughout because 40 per cent of this poultry is from small farmers and they would have put probably more equity, more sweat equity in the business than a large company,” Fulton said.

Christopher Levy, president and CEO of JBG, told The Gleaner yesterday that the company has for some time been considering an increase in chicken prices, but held back during the Christmas season.

“Our delay was to try and just soften the blow for the consumers in a time when all of us spend more money than we have, [that is the] Christmas season,” Levy told The Gleaner.

“The decision to wait was one that we felt that it would be very insensitive to have these sort of aggressive price increases going into the Christmas season. We decided to hold and see if grains would turn; if the inflation would flatten out, but unfortunately the indication and what we’re seeing is not bearing out those hopes,” he added.

Shipping, grain price increases

Levy told The Gleaner the cost of shipping contracts is increasing along with grain prices, which also forced them to increase their chicken prices.

Up to October 2021, JBG reported in its second-quarter results that its gross margins had fallen from 24 per cent to 20 per cent as a result of increased input costs which were partially mitigated by the growth in the company’s United States operations.

In Jamaica, inflation has also been pinpointed for the increase that will soon be felt in the increased cost of chicken.

On January 17, Carol Coy, director general, Statistical Institute of Jamaica (STATIN), during the organisation’s digital quarterly media briefing, said the point-to-point inflation rate between December 2020 and December 2021 was 7.3 per cent, which remains above the Bank of Jamaica’s (BOJ) upper inflation band of six per cent.

Coy said that the index for ‘Food and Non-Alcoholic Beverages’ was impacted by increases of 13 per cent and 13.8 per cent, respectively, for the categories ‘Cereals and Cereal Products’ and ‘Meat and Other Parts of Slaughtered Land Animals’.

With new price hikes for chicken announced, Lothan Cousins, Opposition spokesman on agriculture and water, in a press release sent to the media yesterday, expressed concerns about the 10 per cent increase in the price of poultry meat by JBG and called on the Government to engage the broiler companies immediately with the interest of the consuming public in mind.

He called on newly minted Pearnel Charles Jr, minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, to take urgent action and to ensure affordable prices of baby chicks for the poultry industry, especially for small producers.

Cousins stated that he had received several calls from small producers complaining about a new round of price increases for baby chicks and the increased use of marrying the selling of baby chicks with broiler ration, which has become pervasive in farm stores across the island.