chicken farmers ruffled over loss of business

by Roy R. Morris

Some small chicken farmers are today stewing over an apparent decision by the management of TriMart Supermarket to drastically reduce purchases from them in favour of larger producers.

Barbados Today has learnt that just over a dozen small growers met in St. John yesterday evening in response to reports that the supermarket chain had cut their sales from a collective 6,000 birds per month to around 20 cut into quarters, per grower.

And while an official at TriMart’s Haggatt Hall, St. Michael flagship store said he was unaware of any change in their policy, before redirecting all comment to Chief Executive Officer Jeffrey Evelyn, a source close to the growers insisted there had been a major change.

In fact, that source said while they respected TriMart’s right to conduct its business the way it saw fit, they felt slighted by the manner in which they found out about the decision, as well as the fact that “when TriMart was down and out and the big players cut off their supplies we remained faithful, but we guess they are better off now”.

One player explained that some of them supplied between 200 and 500 birds to TriMart per week, through a rural slaughter facility that coordinated with the supermarket on the numbers each branch required.

Rather than giving them at least a chance to “ramp down”, seek out other outlets or even communicate with hatcheries about reduced chick requirements, the grower said, they were told abruptly the company would only be taking 20 birds a piece from them.

Barbados TODAY was also told that up to a few months ago they had no fears about the relationship with TriMart, since the company manager then in charge of that aspect of the operations, Roger Greaves, offered them full support.

“Our relationship was so good that they could call even on a Sunday and order 200 or 300 birds and get them,” one source said. “We supported them and they supported us, but now we are told they are getting birds from bigger producers at 30 cents per pound more that we charged.”

“We have been hearing all of a sudden they are concerns about our quality, that the birds should be frozen and not packed in ice and all sorts of things, but none of these were problems before.”

Effort to reach the TriMart’s CEO this afternoon were unsuccessful, but officials who attended the meeting in Clifton Hall, St. John said their priority now was to get an urgent meeting with senior officials to get a clearer understanding of what was occurring.

The person described to Barbados TODAY as the principal organiser of yesterday’s meeting refused to answer any questions on the matter “until after a meeting with TriMart”.

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