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Barbadian Exporters Seek New Poultry Markets

by 5m Editor
1 October 2009, at 10:33am

BARBADOS - Poultry farmers looking to export chicken to neighbouring islands are facing some challenges.

Immediate-past president of the Barbados Egg & Poultry Producers Association (BEPPA), Carlyle Brathwaite, said poultry producers were working with officials of the Barbados Manufacturers' Association (BMA) to get their birds into a couple Caribbean islands where it had proven difficult to do so.

According to Barbados Advocate, both he and Geoffrey Goddard, a manager at the island's main chicken processor, Chickmont Foods Limited, said the hurdle facing chicken farmers here was that virtually the only market opportunity available to them was the sale of breasts.

Mr Goddard said while chicken legs were very popular in Barbados, poultry producers would not find a ready market for these parts – neither chicken backs and definitely not whole chickens.

These comments followed concerns from some of the poultry sector that farmers were facing difficulties exporting their produce.

Mr Brathwaite said: "I know that they made a report to the Barbados Manufacturers' Association and from that what I have heard from the BMA, there seems to be some problems that they had with two countries. One they have been able to get over as yet and the BMA is now trying their best to get over that problem of being able to get the exports to go in the other country," he noted.

"It's not a matter of price. It's a matter where the importers have been so accustomed to importing from other places and the benefits to them might be so substantial that they might not want yours."

Mr Brathwaite said there were countries like St Lucia that were willing to consume chicken from Barbados but the people who still needed to be convinced are importers there and in other Caribbean countries.

"We have always been able to make a competitive price, representing ourselves in those countries. It is chiefly breast meat and therefore we have been able to make a competitive price with this. We don’t know all of the small details when it comes to an importer and what benefits he might be getting outside of what we see as the prices that are going on the supermarket shelves, so we cannot make statements to that," he said.

"But I know that as long as the product can be sold at a competitive or comparative price to what the country can get that product for, the Caribbean country must first be given priority for that product once the price is the same. And I think that we are now trying to get that issue cleared. Once that issue is cleared I believe our exports will continue to rise."

Barbados Advocate reports that while Mr Brathwaite said the island's chicken exports had "increased quite considerably" in recent years, Mr Goddard said selling chicken outside of Barbados was not an easy task.

He said: "Export [of chicken] is not as simple and straightforward as it may seem. A lot of the islands that we export to are basically to do with cruise ships and the airline industry so you are looking at a very specific part, mainly the breast. A lot of these countries are also producing poultry and their labour costs and other costs are a lot lower than ours, so export is not simple."