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CB Creates 'Smart Egg' for Low-Consumption Market

by 5m Editor
17 February 2012, at 9:44am

JAMAICA - Caribbean Broilers (CB) has placed a new nutrient-enriched 'smart egg' on the market, which is distinguished on supermarket shelves by its packaging inside a transparent circular tray that houses seven eggs.

The Gleaner reports that the new product comes months after CB's acquisition of Chippenham Park egg farm last August from Ian and Suzanne Banks.

Dr Keith Amiel, manager of corporate affairs at CB, said Monday that since the acquisition, the company has invested J$20 million to date in upgrades, research and development, resulting in an egg product with higher levels of the omega-3 nutrient.

Smart Eggs was launched on 16 January.

"We have been able to maintain our prices above break-even to the wholesalers and retailers, who are very happy with our product," said Dr Amiel.

The eggs are distributed by CB Foods and are available in 27 supermarkets. In one of those supermarkets, the product was selling at J$179 per tray. A dozen eggs in the traditional cartons sold in the same supermarket for J$240 per tray, which makes Smart Eggs about 28 per cent more expensive.

"Our niche markets keep us off a collision course with others in the egg business who have remained our valuable customers," the CB executive said.

Jamaica currently has a layer population of between 500,000 and 600,000 birds; CB grows and supplies 150,000 ready-to-lay pullets to the public, Dr Amiel said.

CB produces some 600,000 dozen eggs in a market of some 11 million dozen. But on its acquisition of Chippenham, the company said it expected egg production to double to 20 million dozens over time, of which it would control seven million dozens, or just over one-third.

Dr Amiel said Monday that a 30-per cent increase in output has been recorded at Chippenham since the acquisition. The farm was producing 175,000 eggs per week at takeover, he said.

CB has been investing heavily in research and development - including a US$10-million spend over five years on its chicken feed, Nutramix - to improve product quality.

Dr Amiel said Smart Eggs has three to six times the amount of omega-3 fatty acids found in regular eggs, had less saturated fat, and higher lutein content in the yolk than regular eggs. Lutein is said to help the eye work more efficiently to process light.

CB explains in an information sheet on the new egg variety that the production process for Smart Eggs involves feeding hens "a unique vegetarian diet which is highly nutritious and contains only natural ingredients, including long- and short-chain fatty acids."

Omega-3 is said to reduce the risk of circulatory diseases, lower blood pressure, alleviate inflammatory conditions, including arthritis and asthma, promote infant development, improve brain function in children, and reduce the risk of Alzheimer's disease.

Caribbean Broilers, which is in the business of poultry and meat processing, paid approximately US$2 million (J$172 million) to acquire the St Ann-based Chippenham.

Dr Amiel said back then that the initial purchase price for the egg business was "just the start" of an investment programme, which would see the addition of feed units, and a marketing campaign to grow local consumption.

In an update on Monday, Dr Amiel said: "We have been retraining the staff at Chippenham Park and substantially upgrading the sanitary and hygiene standards to meet the production requirements of our HACCP and ISO Certification. The process involves improved maintenance of the equipment and the construction of a larger cool room holding area in anticipation of the planned expansion of our omega-3 egg production."

He reiterated that CB intended to become market leader in the egg market in the short term.

"We have worked through our ISO Feed Plant, Newport Mills Limited, to produce special feed formulations for our layers containing omega-3 oils. We have found our products to be more quality sensitive than price sensitive," he said.

"The consumer is prepared to pay for a safe product of a higher quality. As such, we have not emphasised cheapness in our sales presentation."

The CB executive said that the company is mindful that Jamaica remains one of the lowest egg-consuming countries in the world, with less than one egg eaten per week per person, as opposed to North America and Europe, where they eat 3-5 eggs weekly.

"This clearly represents a great business opportunity to create a new market. We are canvassing the school-feeding programme so that children can 'get cracking'," Dr Amiel said.

CB is also eyeing exports of Smart Eggs to the Caribbean, he said.