Astral Foods expands Zambian ops

17 June 2010

South African integrated poultry producer Astral Foods has, through its Tiger Animal Feeds Zambia subsidiary, expanded its operations in Zambia with the launch of TIGERChicks, a new state-of-the-art broiler breeding farm and hatchery developed at an undisclosed cost.

The move is in line with the company’s business plan for African expansion, which begins with entering a market with feed pre-mixes, followed by feed production and then identifying the most viable option to enter the broiler market.

“We have been involved in Zambia for more than 10 years and have experienced growth in our business over this period,” Astral Foods CEO Chris Schutte said in a statement this week.

Zambian first

Poultry remains the most affordable and sustainable form of animal protein, hence the importance of supporting small-scale local poultry farmers. Currently, broiler consumption in Zambia is approximately 2.5kg per annum versus 31.8kg in South Africa.

TIGERChicks consists of an impressive 790-hectare property. The benefit of this property, from a bio-security point of view, is that it was completely undeveloped and also strategically positioned to service the region.

The design specification of this state-of-the-art broiler breeding farm and hatchery adheres to OIE standards (the World Organisation for Animal Health) -a first for Zambia.

“Because of Zambia’s position in relation to other developing countries in Southern Africa, being self-sustainable in terms of agricultural commodities, this is regarded as being a strategic country to further invest in as a springboard into the rest of Southern Africa,” said Astral Feed Division MD Roedolf Steenkamp.

Lohmann Meat Broiler

TIGERChicks is together with Aviagen introducing the Lohmann Meat Broiler breed, a slow feathering bird, for the first time to Africa. According to Steenkamp, “trials to date have shown that this bird is performing exceptionally well in similar markets”.

Steenkamp said the hatchery could hatch 120 000 day-old chicks per week at present, and that the footprint for the hatchery and breeder farm had been established to produce and hatch up to a million day-old chicks per week as the demand for broilers in the region increased.

“We also transport these day-old chicks to the local poultry farmers in environmentally controlled delivery vehicles,” he said.

Jobs, local development

In 2006, Tiger Animal Feeds won the annual award for Distinguished Service to Agriculture in Zambia from the Zambia National Farmers Union for its contribution to the development of agriculture in the country.

With the establishment of the new state-of-the-art broiler breeding farm and hatchery, Steenkamp believes that Astral can continue to provide job opportunities, deliver a quality day old chicken to the local broiler farmers, while also offering them training and support in terms of nutrition and broiler farming best practices to ensure that the broiler market develops to its potential.

As part of the investment into the facility, Astral also concluded an Investment Protection and Promotion Agreement with the Zambian Development Agency and the Zambian Government for an investment of up to US$10-million.

“The development of TIGERChicks in Zambia is another step in Astral’s business plan to strategically focus expansion, in a responsible and cautious manner, outside the borders of South Africa,” said Schutte.

SAinfo reporter

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