I am writing this piece from the Montego Bay, Jamaica, airport waiting on my plane ride back home. Thank you to Kent Nutrition Group for extending the invitation to speak to dealers from throughout the nation.

Trent Loos

Kent Nutrition Group has really impressed me with its culture of putting people first that is so evident from everyone involved. The concept of rewarding high volume dealers gives proof to the commitment that its business model is a success. I also had a couple of days to observe and mingle with this Jamaican culture, which has prompted many new thoughts.

I am willing to bet whether you have been to Jamaica or not you have heard of the Jerk Chicken. I had heard, but suddenly I am a huge fan. It has to do with the seasoning, the cooking style and the beer that makes it all work. OK, but the way they cook pork and use the jerk sauce was a huge hit as well, but clearly it is the chicken that makes them shine.

If I were to ask you what a “chicken farm” would look like in Jamaica I am guessing you, like I did, would envision backyard birds with a group of Jamaican’s chasing them down to begin the jerking process. Wrong. First off, if you just do a blank search for Jamaica chicken farm you will get a website prompting you to explore more details in becoming contract chicken grower. In fact, recently the group has even expanded into the United States but to give you an idea of the size and scope the financials look like this:

The group made revenues for the quarter (2018) of $14.6 billion, a 15% increase over the $12.7 billion achieved a year earlier while profit to shareholders grew to $755 million for the quarter or 3.4% over the period.

Specifically, over the nine months to January 2019 the group made profit of $1.38 billion when compared with $1.36 billion a year earlier. Also revenues totaled $40.3 billion over the nine months when compared with $35.7 billion a year earlier.

The truth of the matter is when you have a growing demand then a structured system will find a way to deliver the uniform goods and in this case it is chicken. The best I can garner from the information regarding tariffs on importing chicken into Jamaica is 260% and they have a complete ban on importation of pork. With that said, the Jamaican market does contribute a little bit in other areas.

During 2018, the total value of food imports to Jamaica was $902 million (USD), with approximately 44% of these imports supplied via sources in the United States.

Taking a quick glance at the agriculture infrastructure in this Caribbean nation is very interesting to me.

Agriculture is the basic industry of Jamaica. As the island possesses a wide variety of soil and climate, nearly every tropical product can be grown here. The chief economic crops are sugar, bananas, citrus, cocoa and coconuts, each of which is dealt with below in detail. Not one of the major crops of the island is indigenous. Sugar cane, coconut, rice and ginger were introduced into the island from Far Eastern countries, bananas from the Canary Islands, cocoa from South America, limes and mangoes from India, the breadfruit from Tahiti and ackee from Africa.

Some of my observations will stick with me for quite some time. It could be said that the folks who call Jamaica home don’t really have much in common with this Nebraska cowboy but there is clearly one tie that binds us together—food. We all need it. I would hope that we can come together on the concept of food, and even food as a means of national security for our own countries.

There is no question in my mind that as the Kent Nutrition folks all head home there will be two things that really plant seeds of fondness for our time here. The plentiful supply of wonderful food and the amazing service we did receive. Every single person we had the opportunity to interact with truly made you believe they loved having us here for a visit. That is a lesson we here at home should spend a bit more time investing in.

Editor’s note: Trent Loos is a sixth generation United States farmer, host of the daily radio show, Loos Tales, and founder of Faces of Agriculture, a non-profit organization putting the human element back into the production of food. Get more information at www.LoosTales.com, or email Trent at trentloos@gmail.com.

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