Almost a year after Hurricane Dorian, Abaco Big Bird Poultry Farm made its first delivery of chicken to Maxwell’s food store on Abaco yesterday.
The company’s operations manager, Lance Pinder, told Guardian Business yesterday that this was accomplished even while operating at only six percent of its pre-Dorian capacity,.
Pinder said delays in the manufacturing of the company’s new chicken houses due to COVID-19 has put them three months behind where they wanted to be at this time.
However, he said that by the end of the year, four of the houses will be complete, and the farm will be back to a more stable supply of chicken.
“No matter what we did nothing would have happened any faster,” said Pinder.
He said people have been waiting for Abaco Big Bird to get back to production.
Pinder said it’s because the company produces the best chicken.
But at the moment, said Pinder, the company will have to temper its regrowth as it relies on some insurance money, out-of-pocket investment, and relief from effects of COVID-19 to get back on stream.
“We’re expanding on a smaller scale,” he said.
“Obviously, Abaco is still pretty messed up. A lot of the resorts and restaurants weren’t open at the time we made the decision to start a little slow, and now the COVID is having impacts on all of that as well.”
Pinder said Abaco Big Bird is also relying on the local market to direct its production decisions.
“We’re going to grow as we see our market demand grow,” he said.
“We’re not going with the ‘build it and they will come’ attitude; that’s how the farm got started. And with a lot of the big farm operators in the country, the government made a lot of promises to farmers, and they built it [thinking] they will come, and the government end of the bargain never was upheld. Then you’re in a bad situation, and we don’t intend to get into that situation anymore.”
Pinder said Abaco Big Bird has been in the chicken production business for 25 years and is not concerned about competition coming into the market.
He said the company is eyeing international export of its chickens as its ultimate end-game.
“We’re domestically market driven but our big goal is to get our chicken into the United States,” Pinder said. “That would be the ultimate win for us.”
While the company does not yet have enough capacity to supply stores on New Providence, Pinder said the company is looking at ways to get some of its stock to the island’s loyal customers.