Huge blow to Barbados’ dairy industry

by Emmanuel Joseph

Richard Cozier
Richard Cozier

Barbados’ dairy industry has been dealt a major financial blow that could result in some workers being placed on the breadline.

Investigations by Barbados TODAY this afternoon revealed that the Pine Hill Dairy and milk farmers, both of which were planning to expand their supplies, have suffered a significant set back as a result of the School Meals Department ceasing any further purchase of the commodity from the PHD.

Director of the Pine Hill Dairy, Richard Cozier told this newspaper the company had been removed from the department’s list of food suppliers which he said meant a loss of between 125,000 and 140,000 kilogrammes of milk per year or about three quarters of a million dollars in revenue.

The PHD top executive said the department’s decision to stop buying the product represented three per cent of the farmers’ supply to the dairy or about 1,200 cases per month.

“We were actually planning to expand into other schools,” he noted, adding that further details of this measure would have to be acquired from the School Meals Department.

As far as the farmers were concerned, their spokesman described the latest development as terrible news.

President of the Dairy and Beef Producers Association of Barbados, Brian Allen told Barbados TODAY that “a few weeks ago” the sector held talks with the Ministry of Agriculture aimed at increasing milk supplies.

“The School Meals (Department) has cut milk 100 per cent. The Pine Hill Dairy has called an emergency meeting with the farmers for tomorrow. I don’t know exactly what they will tell us, but I suspect our quotas may be further cut,” Allen stated.

The farmers association head said the dairy had assured them there would be no additional reduction in milk quotas this year, but he felt that might now be reversed.

He pointed out that business had started to settle down and he rehired staff who were sent home when the quota was previously cut.

“I might have to do that again (layoff) and I believe others in the industry may do the same,” Allen disclosed.

Milk quotas were cut by 25 per cent last September, the association’s president recalled.

“We were hoping to increase the volume to schools. Now this is terrible news that our supplies to the dairy might be reduced; and the import substitutions which are ‘killing us,” he lamented.

Allen said the PHD did not having many options now, considering that it had to get rid of its stock.

He revealed that the dairy, which normally tendered for the School Meals Department’s milk supplies through SBI Distributions, was no longer being allowed to tender.

The farmer also noted the money allocated to the department had been cut back and the industry had become a casualty.

9 Responses to Huge blow to Barbados’ dairy industry

  1. Veronica S. Cutting August 26, 2013 at 11:28 pm

    It’s one thing after the other in Barbados. Out with the status quo. Barbadians need to reinvent themselves and come into the 21st Century. The PHD does not have the best quality products and their time in the market lasted longer than most, who were mindful and watching, imagined it would.

    Time to look at your product line PHD. Time to provide better quality at a competitive price.

    Good luck!

  2. Spidude August 26, 2013 at 11:49 pm

    That’s right. Let’s all stop buying from local companies, whose prices are a direct reflection of the high costs of using local inputs. Let’s continue to import lower priced products from overseas and watch our foreign exchange reserves dwindle to nothing, and our people fall into poverty dues to job losses in local companies all in the name of a lower price.

  3. sungoddess August 27, 2013 at 6:25 am

    What Spidude said… buy BAJAN! If ya’ll bought Bajan regardless of the expense, the country could thrive and prosper.

  4. Ex pat now repat August 27, 2013 at 6:39 am

    I no longer live in Barbados. There are many reasons why but the abandonment of fresh milk by the PHD was a truly awful decision and the way they did it was shameful. I stopped buying any of their products because the new milk was disgusting. Thank heavens for Mr Bynoe at Emerald City. We used to go there once a month and buy the imported milk. PHD only have themselves to blame.

  5. Sunniebgi August 27, 2013 at 7:16 am

    So.. what will the school meals be serving in place of milk??? Sodas??? sickly sweet juices??? (made in Trinidad by the way.. not in Barbados..).. one more nail in the coffin of bad health in Barbados..

    • JosephV August 27, 2013 at 11:39 am

      But is that non-fresh UHT milk that good for you anyway?! Any better than fruit juice? Were schools still giving milk free to pupils or is this a cut because people were not buying it in schools?

  6. Hand2Mout August 27, 2013 at 7:54 am

    Good for the SMD!
    Let the PHD go and compete in the market and stop sponging off taxpayers

    Late last year or earlier this year, PHD complained that its milk was not selling and it had excess stock in the warehouse. PHD reduced the price of milk and presumably was able to get rid of that stock. A few months later, Bajans were rewarded for buying local with an increase in price of the same PHD products that were not selling previously.

    The poultry farmers are worse.

  7. Harrie Payne August 27, 2013 at 12:37 pm

    Barbados is a tropical island that should be taken advantage of for its natural resources, i.e. cow’s milk, fruits, vegetables. Importing milk is stupid when you have cows in your island producing chemical free milk. Think about the process of how the imported milk has to be prep to be transported to Bim. If Pine Hill is not giving you good quality goods what do you know about the imported goods? Do you know what goes in them to preserve them from spoilage before it reaches your table? Get back to basics and support your own country. Let PHD know what they can change about their product. Watch the movie Life and Debt about Jamaica’s economy and tell me if importation is Bim’s best choice.

  8. gj August 27, 2013 at 4:35 pm

    If we understand the real seriousness of terms like “food security” and the reason(s) why ‘biscuit and milk’ were first introduced in Barbados at least 5 decades ago we would be slow to rejoice over the problems being experienced in our local dairy industry.

    When we understand the underlying social factors that have prevented the farmers from SWOTting and pooling part of the $1.5m. temporary support given to them just prior to this year’s general election we would become very concerned since these same factors maybe countervailing in the wider economy.

    The dairy farmers and the PHD have the opportunity to radically reorganise this sector…..


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