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Jamaica Broilers sees big growth in US market

Poultry producer Jamaica Broilers Group, JBG, is projecting a February 2023 opening for its expanded South Carolina facility in the United States. The company is aiming to double output after pumping in approximately US$20 million, split between capital expenditure and working capital for the expansion.

JBG acquired Gentry’s Poultry Company in 2019 and late rebranded to the Best Dressed Chicken USA, BDC USA. Group President and CEO Christopher Levy says there has been growth of about 100 per cent since JBG bought the US operation. Speaking to the Financial Gleaner after the company’s annual general meeting, AGM, held virtually on Wednesday, Levy was reluctant to give hard numbers, but said the expansion should result in a doubling of output when completed.

Levy told shareholders at the AGM that when the company bought the South Carolina operation in 2019, output was about 150 birds per week.

“We are significantly past that now, and we will be growing even more in the future,” Levy said in his address to shareholders.

He updated that revenue from BDC USA, which stood at US$14 million for financial year 2019-2020, grew to US$38 million in 2020-2021 and to US$85 million for 2021-2022. Regarding further revenue growth, Levy told shareholders that the “aggressive trajectory is expected to continue”.

“The ability to grow and seize opportunities in the United States is, quite frankly, beyond our imagination at this point,” the JBG CEO told shareholders.

He said expansion will continue in South Carolina with new iinvestments commensurate with the size of the company. The US market, managed from Florida, has been a big winner for JBG, contributing 44 per cent of group revenues, at $76 billion, for the financial year ended April 2022. Apart from poultry, the company also produces for the US market, chicken feed and eggs for hatching.

Levy told the Financial Gleaner that JBG is on a drive to boost exports from its Jamaican operations. He says the company is encouraged by the latest reports indicating that first-quarter exports have grown 80 per cent. He reported to shareholders that exports had grown 60 per cent year-on-year to April 2022. Given the latest report, he maintained, he is confident that there are good prospects in this area.

“This is coming up to about seven to eight per cent of total revenue. We are exporting chicken nuggets, wings, battered and breaded chicken tenders to markets all over the Caribbean,” Levy told the Financial Gleaner.

The JBG CEO said the focus for both exports and local sales is value-added products which can attract customers and deliver better margins for the company. Products in this segment include chicken breast strips, deboned chicken, and chicken jerk sausages.

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