JBG Hatchery Manager Lori Ann Thwaites checks the count on a box of day-old baby chicks before releasing same to Hi-Pro Chick Sales. (Photo courtesy of Jamaica Broilers Group)

Jamaica Broilers looks to build out e-commerce channels

JBG Hatchery Manager Lori Ann Thwaites checks the count on a box of day-old baby chicks before releasing same to Hi-Pro Chick Sales. (Photo courtesy of Jamaica Broilers Group)

Jamaica Broilers subsidiary Hi-Pro Ace Supercentre  launched an e-commerce platform which generated the highest sales in some goods categories, the group’s management shared.

Baby chicks (Photo courtesy of Jamaica Broilers Group)

In the group’s recent annual report, management noted that while a significant quantity of the orders placed originated within St Catherine, Jamaica, it was noted that orders were primarily originating 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.

The Jamaica Broilers Group operates in a global marketplace with its key operations spread across three territories: the United States, Jamaica and Haiti. Poultry continues to be the core business of the company.

Management noted that despite mounting obstacles, particularly 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.

In Jamaica, 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.”

Jamaica Broilers animal feed.

This included making the Best Dressed Chicken products available at select farmers’ markets as well as creating strategic bundles of products dubbed ‘value packs’ available to consumers in partnership with direct customers across the island.

The Best Dressed Chicken (BDC) field team maintained our operations’ primary performance efficiency targets including daily weight gains and feed conversion.

Performances continued to rank in the top five per cent of Agristats (USA Benchmarking Companies) for birds grown to a similar size.
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 chicks that satisfied the needs of its two major customers: The Best Dressed Chicken Field Operations and Hi-Pro Farm Supplies.

Hatching eggs were sourced from International Poultry Breeders, which has operations in Jamaica and the US.

The Best Dressed Feed Mill produces feeds for Best Dressed Chicken Field Operation and Hi-Pro Feeds.  The primary product continues to be broiler feed, but the unit also delivers goat, pig and horse feeds among others.

The company’s four grain silos has a capacity of up to 24,000 metric tonnes of storage.

JB said subsidiary Hi-Pro continued as market leader in the provision of animal feed, baby chicks, ready-to lay pullets, among other agricultural inputs.

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 final quarter.

Broiler feed and chick sales remained relatively stable with a sudden decline in the last quarter.

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

During this time, Hi-Pro deployed over 400,000 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.

The division realized a decline in pig feed sales based on a contraction in the pork sector in response to continued glut conditions from the previous year which was further exaggerated by the impact of the pandemic on the hospitality and entertainment sectors.

Subsidiary Jamaica Egg Services was affected as the egg industry experienced ongoing glut conditions forcing egg farmers to maintain lower than desired farm gate prices for most of the year.

However, reversal came in when the Ministry of Industry Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries (MICAF) came to the aid of  egg farmers most affected by the closure of the tourism sector through the provision of subsidies and implementation of farmer’s markets within easy reach of consumers.

This, combined with changes in consumer behaviour during the pandemic, realised an increase in local consumption which helped to absorb some of the oversupply caused by the closure of the hotels.

The group says the  financial year was a period of unprecedented growth within the small ruminant sector, as both private and public sector entities recognised the opportunity for increasing local production of goat and mutton meat, which currently account for a mere 10-12 per cent of local consumption.
Hi-Pro made the timely introduction of goat semen for (Saanen & Nubian) milk and (Boer) meat breed goats in addition to the Total Mixed Ration series for small ruminants.
Management said the year saw the achievement of vertical integration in its US operations upon the acquisition of a processing plant in South Carolina, USA.

The closing quarter however, saw the company 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 were $55 billion representing a one per cent increase over the prior year with 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 was $1.37 at year end compared to $2.30 in the prior year, while stockholders’ equity was $16 billion.