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Jamaica Broilers to take $900m hit on lockdown of Haiti operations

Jamaica Broilers Group, JBG, expects to write off about $900 million in the wake of its exit from Haiti.

The closure of the businesses, Haiti Broilers SA and its subsidiary T&S Rice SA, which dealt in the production and sale of chickens, layer pullers, table eggs and animal feeds, took effect on October 29, and comes after the poultry producer had racked up some three of years of losses in the French-speaking country. Jamaica Broilers’ departure comes after a dozen years, having operated there since 2010. It employed around 500 people there at its peak.

The $900-million impairment of the investment in Haiti Broilers “represents the net assets which are held by JBG,” the company said in a market filing.

At last report for the quarter ended July 30, the Haitian operation’s assets were estimated at $842 million, representing 1.3 per cent of the group’s total assets. Just a year ago, the assets totalled nearly $2 billion.

On Tuesday, JBG Senior Vice-President Ian Parsard told the Financial Gleaner that the company was no longer looking to recover any of the holdings.

“As far as Haiti is concerned, we have ceased all operations in the country. We are not trying to recover anything in the country, because it’s just not tenable for people to be operating there. To be able to transact business and collect money in the country, it’s a recipe for disaster, and we are not putting people’s lives at risk,” said Parsard.

“So we have paid off all staff and we have no security, nothing. We are out of Haiti,” he said.

The assets comprise plant, property, equipment, inventories, investments and receivables.

JBG is redirecting investments into the expansion of its Best Dressed Chicken US operation, and has already allocated some US$20 million towards doubling its current production capacity in that country.

The poultry producer’s challenge with the Haitian market magnified in 2021 after the assassination of President Jovenel Mo?se, who had ruled by decree for more than a year before he was killed. Just a month after, an earthquake with a magnitude of 7.2 killed 2,207 Haitians.

Criminal gangs blocking access to the all-important oil terminal has become the latest chapter in a chronic security, political and humanitarian crisis in the country now plagued by a deadly resurgence of cholera.

Prime Minister Ariel Henry has since launched an appeal to the international community, to which the UN Security Council has unanimously approved a sanctions regime for Haiti, targeting gang leaders and those who finance them. But the idea of a new foreign force does not have unanimous support among Haiti’s population.

Parsard said that while JBG has pulled out of the country, aspects of the business might survive under T&S Rice SA, a long-standing Haitian company, which became a subsidiary of Haiti Broilers over time. T&S Rice held the leasing rights to Haiti Broiler’s Port Lafiteau property that doubled as its head office, distribution centre and feed milling plant.

“T&S Rice will survive Haiti Broilers if the folks who are taking it over want to continue the business. That’s completely up to them,” Parsard said.

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