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Broilers reviewing viability of Haiti business

Amid improved profitability in its big markets, poultry producer Jamaica Broilers Group, JBG, appears to have changed its tone on the lagging Haiti business, saying its future was under review as losses double.

In the first quarter ending July, Haiti recorded operating losses of $83 million. That’s up from $48 million in the comparative period in 2021.

“The operations in Haiti are being reviewed and evaluated to determine the future viability of the business, amid the country’s economic and political instability,” JBG President and CEO Christopher Levy said in the preamble to the company’s newly released financial results.

Earlier in July, JBG Senior Vice-President Ian Parsard had said that the company had no immediate plans to exit Haiti, but that it would remain open to any opportunities that arose, including offers that may come to the table.

At the time, the company was said to be focused on consolidating the operations and remained in a wait-and-see mode about how the revised business model would work.

For nearly two years, Jamaica Broilers has been reshaping the operations in Haiti, which included the downsizing of farming activities. Feed production continued, however, alongside the trade in table eggs.

Haitian sales manager Carl-Eric Staco was tapped as general manager in October 2020. A key part of his job was plotting a positive turnaround for the operations.

But it continues to bleed. Sales fell 80 per cent in the quarter, while operating losses climbed 73 per cent.

Comparatively, the Jamaica operations achieved operating profit of $1.88 billion, up 182 per cent over 2021, while the US operations made $815 million, reflecting a 40 per cent gain.

Jamaica Broilers now owns 85.48 per cent of Haiti Broilers SA, having purchased an additional 13.84 per cent stake in the company last year.

Haiti’s lacklustre performance notwithstanding, the poultry group’s earnings grew fourfold in the May-July quarter to just over $1 billion, bettering its pre-pandemic profit performance.

It’s also the company’s third straight quarter above the billion-dollar profit mark, a record it first hit in the period ended January 2022, aided by a doubling of earnings from its US operations on the heels of its decision to produce and supply Best Dressed brand of chicken meat in that market.

Growth for the quarter was also largely driven by rising poultry sales in Jamaica, as well as increased sale of baby chicks to small farmers in the local market, Levy said.

“The reopening of the Jamaica economy, particularly the tourism industry, has contributed to the increased demand driving sales,” he added.

Group revenue amounted to $23 billion, up 31 per cent above the $17.6 billion of sales achieved in the corresponding 2021 quarter.

Subsequent to the quarter, Jamaica Broilers announced a rollback in prices on some products in the Jamaican market.

Effective August 18, prices for Best Dressed Chicken whole bird, and mixed parts were cut by $12.50 per kilogramme.

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