Chicken prices flying up
Increases based on upwards global movement in the cost of grainWednesday, May 12, 2021
BY ARTHUR HALL
Jamaicans are being warned to brace for further increases in the price of chicken as global volatility in grain prices, among other factors, continues to be felt locally.
Pointing to the price movements Dave Fairman, vice-president of Jamaica Broilers' Best Dressed Chicken Division noted that there are a number of variables which go into the cost of chicken meat locally.
“You have grain prices, you have exchange rate, and other cost elements,” said Fairmain as he noted the big jump in grain prices as well as the increase in the cost of containers and freight.
The price of corn increased by 59 per cent on the global market in 2020, while the price of soy bean meal increased by 54 per cent, and wheat went up by 39 per cent.
Fairman told the Jamaica Observer that the price of corn was at a seven-year high one to two weeks ago and argued that local producers have been trying to assist Jamaicans by not passing on the increased costs immediately.
“The big driver here is cost and if you look at what transpired in the earlier part of last year prices were pretty much stable until we started to see a lot of movements and quiet frankly we have just been trying to find ways to minimise that impact because it has been really happening at a rapid pace.
“We are mindful of the whole environment and the economic impact that it will have… but when you are looking at the trajectory, the prices [of inputs] have really gone up significantly,” added Fairman.
In February, the Caribbean Poultry Association (CPA) sounded a warning that the increase in global grain prices would see regional consumers paying more for several items.
“Our local producers of table eggs, chicken meat, pork, beef and other livestock products have tried to squeeze the production cost bubble and hold costs but the bubble is about to burst from the pressures,” warned Dr Desmond A Ali in a piece written for the CPA.
“To maintain production, keep employment levels and still satisfy the nutrition needs of our people, prices will have to go up. There simply is no other option. We in the industry recognise the fact that personal incomes have fallen and that we have a duty to keep our people fed.
“We also recognise that there is just so much pressure that we can take to keep the lid on prices. But for us to maintain our industry for the long term, keep our staff employed and contribute high-quality protein to our Caribbean people, we must do what is absolutely necessary,” added Ali.
Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries Floyd Green, in February, also expressed concern about the looming price increase for poultry and poultry-related items.
“The increasing prices for poultry-related items have significantly affected local chicken prices, which will reverberate throughout the economy,” said Green.
“We are actively monitoring the situation, and will be having a series of discussions on the matter with our key stakeholders,” added Green at the time.
On Monday, an operator of a popular restaurant chain noted that although the entity has so far absorbed the price increases, opting not to change the prices of its popular chicken products, this may have to change soon.
“As a result of the pandemic and the reduced business hours, I am already losing a lot of money. To make things worse, over the past year we have seen multiple jumps in the price of chicken meat. This means we are spending more on raw materials while at the same time bringing in less revenue. Chicken prices have increased more than five times in 12 months and we are finding this unsustainable. We are faced with no option but to increase our prices,” warned the operator who asked not to be named until the announcement is official made.
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