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'Chicklets, our business'

BY AINSWORTH MORRIS Career & Education writer morrisa@jamaicaobserver.com
Sunday, July 01, 2012

STARTING a business in the Caribbean has been a long time in coming for Alexx Antaeus, the Greek national at the helm of Isle Chix Limited.

In 2009, when he flew to Jamaica intent on saving a failing relationship with a former girlfriend, he brought along his business ideas and began his search for the perfect venture.

He hit on it with poultry farming. A few months after arriving on the island, he registered Isle Chix Limited — a poultry production and processing facility, which began operations in June 2010.

"It all started with 1,000 chickens at our previous small farm in Sandy Bay. My vision was to provide niche poultry products like chicken, all natural Jamaican cornish-style hens, quail and ostrich for the domestic and the international market," Antaeus told the Jamaica Observer in a recent interview.

The primary focus then was to produce chickens, however, with high operational costs and two major poultry competitors, Antaeus changed tactics. He downsized his chicken production in favour of increasing his production of chicklets.

"My goal is to hit a different market than Best Dressed and CB Chicken. I was losing money then [from producing chickens on a large scale]. With the high costs involved and my major competitors, I had to find a new way to compete in the market, and investing in chicklets was that new and creative alternative," said the business man, who refers to Jamaica as the island of "eternal summer".

Antaeus insists that his chicklets, which weigh about one and a half pounds, are ideal for the Jamaican market.

"Our chicklets are easier to cook than the average chicken; matter of fact, they are best to be cooked. Our birds are raised in

an all-natural air-flowing environment. They take about half the time to cook than [normal size] chickens do, they have less fat and each part of the chicken can be served on one plate," he told Career & Education.

The investment in chicklets, he said, is not one he has come to regret.

"It's an amazing feeling to watch day-old chicks grow healthy and become a clean, inexpensive source of protein for consumers," Antaeus said, noting that he currently has a flock of about 40,000 birds.

But setting up and running a business, he admitted, is no easy feat. Antaeus, who also produces music through his New York-based business called Monom Productions, said it takes research, time, and capital, in addition to a great team of workers and business partners who believe in the product.

"It took a lot of research to develop the proper ways of raising, feeding and processing them," he said, referencing his own business. "We have had to deal with theft, both internal and external, and other elements. Operating old-style chicken coops with open sides is great for the natural growth of the birds, but poses many challenges due to moisture and heat."

Still, he persists. In the next two months, the company is to launch their smoked, pre-cooked All Natural Jamaican Cornish-style hens product.

Isle Chix currently supplies several Corporate Area supermarkets, restaurants and hotels with their chicklets.

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