Saturday 24 October, 2020

Jamaica Broilers adds technology upgrades, new product lines

Jamaica Broilers Group continues to improve processing facilities through investments made towards upgrading existing infrastructure.

“These improvements have allowed us to better manage our product runs which further contributed to enhancements in our distribution systems,” the company, led by CEO Christopher Levy said in its most recent annual report.

The company said it has made “substantial investments  towards adding cutting-edge equipment in specific areas.” Among the investments is the installation of an automated debone machine, which has significantly improved the speed, efficiency and consistency of the deboning process, management stated.

Moreover, Jamaica Broilers introduced new products, namely, individually quick frozen (IQF) mixed chicken parts, re-sealable breast packs, pickled chicken neck and our Hamilton’s Smokehouse branded beef franks and sliced pepper.

Also during the year, Jamaica Broilers’ subsidiary HiPro Ace Supercentre launched an e-commerce platform, which, management said, generated the highest sales generated in some goods categories, especially agricultural and pet supplies.

Though a significant quantity of the orders placed originated within St Catherine, the orders primarily originated outside of Jamaica with local delivery.

“Our preliminary research indicates that members of the Diaspora have sought to purchase and secure delivery of household and farming inputs to their loved ones in Jamaica. In the coming year, our retail team will be exploring this channel to a greater degree,” management said.

Jamaica Broilers also said that despite mounting obstacles towards the close of the fiscal year in May 2020,  the group’s sales and marketing teams were strategic in constantly reinventing their approach to product sales.

Jamaica Broilers CEO Christopher Levy

Jamaica Broilers also indicated that the closure of the hotel industry and the imposition of island-wide curfews significantly skewed buying trends. This was further exacerbated by a lockdown of the company’s home parish of St Catherine, management said.

“By considering the immediate challenges being faced by our customers, we were able to find new and innovative ways of meeting them at the point of their need,” management said.

Among the initiatives undertaken were making the Best Dressed Chicken products available at select farmer’s markets as well as creating strategic bundles of products dubbed ‘value packs’ available to consumers in partnership with direct customers across the island.

Best Dressed Chicken (BDC) Hatchery focused on increasing efficiency through management of costs and improvement of our hatchability rates, management outlined.

With locations at White Marl and Cumberland, both in St Catherine, the BDC Hatchery provided baby chicks that satisfied the needs of its two major customers: The Best Dressed Chicken Field Operations and Hi-Pro Farm Supplies.

Jamaica Broilers also noted that its subsidiary Hi-Pro continued as the market leader in the provision of animal feed, baby chicks, ready-to-lay pullets, among other agricultural inputs.

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Management said the technical teams continue to aim at increasing market share, through increased local production in the poultry and livestock sectors; however, their efforts were slowed significantly by the advent of COVID-19 in the final quarter.

This unexpected downturn in demand negatively affected net margins in March and April 2020.

During this time, Hi-Pro deployed over 400,000 baby chicks through its farm store distribution network as an early form of relief for small farmers who were unable to replenish their coops due to loss of revenues and contracted markets.

Also during the yar, Jamaica Broilers saw the achievement of vertical integration in its US operations upon the acquisition of a processing plant in South Carolina, US.

The closing quarter, however, saw Jamaica Broilers actively preparing for and further, responding to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic; an unprecedented scale of far-reaching, international impacts.

At year-end company revenues totalled $55 billion, representing a one per cent increase over the prior year with a gross margin of 26.2 per cent versus 25.9 per cent for the prior year.

Total assets of $44 billion, was  23.5 per cent above the prior year, while profit before taxation of $1.9 billion, is 38.5 per cent below the prior year.

Jamaica Broilers Group closed the year with net profits of $1.4 billion, which was  43 per cent below the prior year. Earnings per share stood at $1.37 compared to $2.30 in the prior year.  

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