Quality Poultry Products is the leading supplier of chicken – still the most consumed protein in Belize. The poultry producer has been operating on the island for many years but they’ve outgrown their original base and so they built a spanking new facility that can serve even more customers at a single time. The massive investment cost the company over a million dollars and it is fitted with a half-a-million dollar refrigeration system. They opened the new base with a big bang on Saturday and News Five went along to find out more about the investment. Reporter Andrea Polanco tells us more.
Allan Reimer, Chairman, Board of Directors, Quality Poultry Products
“Quality Poultry started sometime in 1959-1960 in Spanish Lookout, humble beginnings. My mother was one of the first employees there. She has told me many stories of what they did there. They slaughtered about two hundred birds a day and had their ice in five gallon buckets. The bags were sewn together from sheets and plastics. Those were the humble beginnings of Quality Poultry.”
Andrea Polanco, Reporting
But today, Quality Poultry processes thirty-thousand birds a day. And they have helped to shape our cultural identity – with just about every chicken-eating Belizean having enjoyed a Quality chicken with next to the rice and beans. It’s a real success story but those on the inside know that it took a lot of work and sacrifice to become the leading poultry producer in Belize.
“It is basically a story that repeats itself over and over in the world. Persistence and perseverance pay off. That has indeed been the cornerstone, the foundation, of Quality Poultry. It has seen many, many challenges in the year since 1960.”
And since it became known as Quality Poultry Products in 1975, over the years the company has been established a physical presence with sales offices across the country, with its headquarters and processing facility in Spanish Lookout. In the mid-eighties they opened a small outlet in San Pedro. It is a rapidly growing market for this poultry producer where, to date, they sell over a million pounds of chicken ever year on the island. And as a part of upgrading its facilities countrywide, on Saturday, Quality Poultry Products officially opened their newly built base on San Pedro. The building, which sits right in front of the lagoon in the Boca del Rio area, costs almost one point three million dollars; with half a million dollars invested in refrigeration alone. Raymond Barkman, General Manager, says that the upgrade was needed and that this new base will help to help them to better serve customers.
Raymond Barkman, General Manager, Quality Poultry Products
“If you see this building we have right here, it is a very big investment for us. I wish I could have showed you pictures of how this building looked or was before. You would not believe – literally, the other building was almost caving in. So, for me this is a very big highlight to come from the previous building being scary, fragile to this big, beautiful building. So, this is a really big day for me. As you heard from the Minister, San Pedro is growing and we know it is not going to stop anytime soon. The priority is, even though this might not be the so-called prime location, but if you will notice, on that side we have the river. So, we boat in all our chicken in our own boat and so right here we can park on the river and push it in the freezer and we distribute from there. So, this location is key and the highlight is that we are right next to the river so we have our own dock, our own boat and we just carry it into the freezer in a matter of few minutes.”
And this investment is a critical piece of helping to maintain the quality in Quality Poultry Products for San Pedranos.
“It is an industry where a lot of effort has been put in place to perfect it and improve it. The original bird, which is what the chicken derived from, the ancestor, is about a one kilo bird at about six months. No hormones have been used but what they have done is selective breeding; over and over. I recently attended a breeder conference where they said that at no time have they added hormonal additives to make the chicken grow faster. It is only selective breeding that they have done. The pedigree birds that live today will produce its traits in chickens about five years down the road.”
General Manager Barkman says that while they built this facility to preserve their tradition of quality poultry products, they were also mindful about environment. This branch office is built on the waterfront, so Barkman says that their sewage system is set up so that impurities and pollutants are removed to avoid contamination of the lagoon.
“Obviously we have a septic tank system and the way the system is designed is that it is under this building and the leach field as we called it is completely on all the three sides where the concrete is – this was designed by the architect to be environmentally friendly.”
“It is not going to go into the lagoon is it?”
“No. No. It is in the cleaning process. It gets cleaned under the building – first in the septic tanks and then after the leach field yes it goes but it is already completely cleaned.”
Area Representative and Minister of Tourism Manuel Heredia Junior also gave his stamp of approval on the new branch office.
Manuel Heredia, Area Representative Belize Rural South
“Even though they are here to make business, they are always thinking of giving a quality business, not because they have the brand quality chicken but indeed they have done quality buildings, quality type of businesses and I believe we have to commend them. I, myself, and the mayor, we are proud of this type of development happening in San Pedro. I said earlier that San Pedro is the fastest growing municipality and as such we have to be careful that we develop in a sustainable way. At this point, I think we are getting the quality of infrastructure that San Pedro deserves.”
A feature of the newly built sales office is a shopping mart where customers can also buy groceries. To celebrate the new branch office, Quality slashed prices as low as one dollar and sixty five cents per pound of whole chicken – the biggest discount for San Pedranos. Customers also walked with prizes such as microwaves and bicycles. Other businesses, including Running W and Country Meats, also participated in a small expo where they gave free samples all day. Reporting for News Five, I’m Andrea Polanco.