Mon | Dec 11, 2023

Meat prices to spike

As animal feeds set to increase Monday

Published:Saturday | March 12, 2022 | 12:08 AMJudana Murphy/Staff Reporter

As the price of chicken, pig, goat and cattle feed is set to increase on Monday, consumers are being warned to brace for movement in meat prices.

Nutramix, one of Jamaica’s premier manufacturers of animal feed, said its products will cost more as the conflict in Eastern Europe develops, coupled with the ongoing increase in agricultural commodities.

Ukraine is a major supplier of animal feed.

Nutramix said it is witnessing historically high raw material costs which directly affect the price of feed.

“While we continue our efforts to explore every option to keep feed accessible and reasonably priced, we are forced to adjust the prices of our feed,” Nutramix said in a release to farmers.

President of the Jamaica Agricultural Society (JAS), Lenworth Fulton, told The Gleaner that though disappointed, he expected the price increase.

“We are very saddened that the farmer will have to pay more for a critical input such as feed. That will push the price of both poultry meat and pork up by some percentage, even beyond the present conditions that we are faced with and that is going to put our consumers at greater hardship to afford it,” Fulton explained.

Local alternative

He said the approach at the JAS is to find a local alternative to animal feed or to increase local production.

President of the Jamaica Pig Farmers’ Association, Hanif Brown, said feed accounts for 68 per cent of the production cost for pork and each time the price increases, farmers are “tremendously affected”.

Brown said as a temporary measure, some farmers have tried to grind their own corn while others have turned to locally grown produce to supplement pig feed.

He explained that this practice is common among smaller livestock farmers, who also grow crops and often have a surplus after selling goods to the market vendors.

“The feed that is manufactured by both Nutramix and Hi-Pro are done to meet the dietary requirements of the pigs. Feeding pigs with other produce will grow them but will surely slow down their growth rate, because they won’t be getting a balanced diet,” Brown said.

The president added that farmers aim to get each pig to the market in five and a half months, to guarantee quality and tenderness.

“Keeping a pig longer than that might not affect quality tremendously but it will cost the farmer more. Pig rearing is a high capital intensive business and the infrastructure that has to be put in place is quite costly, so farmers always try to utilise the space as efficiently as possible,” Brown said.

He said when the price of feed began to climb more frequently last September, the association engaged with feed companies, which indicated that they would do their best to keep the prices affordable.

“We have no reason not to believe them, based on what is happening in the world market where grains and fuel prices are concerned, electricity and other variables that factor into the cost of manufacturing,” said the pig farmers’ association president.