Top South African poultry producer Daybreak Farms has announced the appointment of Richard Manzini as its new chief executive officer (CEO).
Manzini, a well-established business strategist, will guide the company through the current challenges in the poultry market. He assumes control of the company, owned by the Public Investment Corporation (PIC), after a market disruption in South Africa caused a significant increase in egg prices around September and October 2023.
The avian influenza outbreak caused an increase in egg prices across the country. This led to a shortage of egg-laying hens, causing an imbalance between supply and demand.
“Mr. Manzini is an astute business leader with an impeccable track record of driving key investments in the agricultural landscape. He comes into Daybreak at a time when the poultry sector is besieged with a myriad of challenges, including the devastating impacts of Avian Influenza, limited power supply, and escalating feed costs.
“The mammoth task of turning around an entity in the prevailing operating environment requires a brave character and the expertise of a well-rounded strategic leader with a deep understanding of the South African poultry landscape and its contribution to food security. Manzini is the perfect fit for the role, having contributed to significant stability and growth in the sector in the recent past,” said Daybreak Farms chairperson Vuyelwa Matsiliza.
Matsiliza described Manzini, who assumed the role on January 1, 2024, as a highly respected investment professional and ethical leader.
She said Manzini has a strong track record in building investment companies for the PIC. This highly regarded asset management firm is the largest in Africa and is recognized globally for its success.
Daybreak Farms operates as an integrated poultry operation. The company provides day-old chicks to its own and contracted broiler farms, where they are raised and sold as fresh and frozen whole chickens and portions. The company also possesses well-established feed milling operations, guaranteeing an integrated supply of specialized feeds for the process of rearing chickens. The investment from PIC allowed for the acquisition of the business, which was previously a division of Afgri.
The appointment of Manzini is timely for Daybreak, as he possesses a unique combination of skills that many in the industry recognize as those of a corporate farmer. He has spent the majority of his time in the plants and on the farms.
Academically, he holds a B.Bus.Science from the University of Cape Town, an LLB from the University of South Africa, an MBA and an MMFI from Wits University, and an MSc from the University of Pretoria.
Manzini acknowledged that Daybreak is currently facing negative attention due to the alleged corruption plaguing the organization.
“Daybreak’s corporate image is marred with negative media; however, these reports relate to historical mismanagement, corruption, and malfeasance. The current board is addressing these matters in the ordinary course within the applicable legal framework,” said Manzini. “As a leadership team, our focus is to embed Daybreak Farms in the sector and amongst its peers as a reliable partner, one that delivers quality chicken and food products to its customers across the country. Importantly, we aspire to become an employer of choice, to embody ethics across our operations, and to better prepare ourselves for the volatility that comes with our operating environment.”
Manzini added: “Daybreak has to prioritise fulfilling its investment mandate to advance transformation in the agriculture industry, one of the least transformed sectors in the country. Job creation and preservation, the production of quality, affordable protein to improve South Africa’s food security, and creating meaningful economic platforms to address poverty in our host communities are key to our success.”