PHD and farmers happy with minister’s milk solution

by Emmanuel Joseph

Minister of Agriculture, Dr. David Estwick (File photo)
Minister of Agriculture, Dr. David Estwick (File photo)

The recent problems that pushed the local dairy industry to the brink of collapse, have now been resolved and farmers and the main processing company are jumping for joy.

Following the intervention of Minister of Agriculture, Dr. David Estwick, the Cabinet has approved a two-year financial package, the value of which is still being fine-tuned, that will eliminate the backlog of milk in stock at the Pine Hill Dairy, resume supplies of the original quota of milk to the School Meals Programme and open new areas for the sale of the commodity by the PHD.

This morning, Estwick met with the top brass of the dairy and farmers’ representatives to deliver the good news. At a news briefing afterwards, an excited Director of the PHD, Richard Cozier, told reporters the package would also include a “substantial” drop in the price of milk to Barbadian consumers.

Decreased local consumption had forced the dairy to hold excess milk in stock for some time now, resulting in heavy financial losses and a recent decision to layoff staff and institute a week-on, week-off shut down of the processing plant.

But Cozier announced this afternoon that with this latest Government rescue plan, the company had decided to scrap those measures.

“At that meeting, Dr. Estwick gave the commitment of the Government to provide some assistance for the industry to move forward in so far as dealing with the backlog or the excess milk that Pine Hill has, but also with dealing, going forward, with some of the issues that came to the top of matter,” the dairy’s executive stated.

“He confirmed that the School Meals Department will take the amount of milk that they have taken in the past. The information relative to the School Meals Programme, not including Pine Hill milk has now been resolved. They will take milk for their programme to the extend that they took last year.”

“He also brought to the table some new proposals from the Government to deal with what is seen as a means of getting the volume of milk consumption up. Certain welfare programmes that the Government subscribes to in terms of food vouchers for those in need will be restructured so that there will be a component that will include fresh milk. The breakfast feeding programme undertaken by the YMCA will also be restructured to include local fresh milk,” Cozier disclosed.

CEO of Banks Holdings Limited RIchard Cozier
Richard Cozier

“Those are seen as positives by us and by the farmers themselves. Anything that encourages consumption is to be applauded. The dairy official announced, too, that the minister also offered the offices of the Government Information Service to get the message out to the public regarding the health benefits of local milk and to tackle certain misconceptions of the commodity.

“We’ve had the meeting today with our staff to give them the good news. We’ve also passed on to the farmers the good news that we will be cancelling our intentions of going on a week-on, week-off [regime]. So collections from the farmers will continue as the programme develops.

“We still have to go back to the minister and sit down and discuss the mechanics of how the package will be applied over the next 10 weeks or so; but we take him at his word. He has never let us down in that respect; and we hope to be able to report to the public at large the specifics of if before the close of next week by which time we will have the actual numbers and how it will redound to the benefit of consumer.

“But safe to say, there would be a price adjustment … downward. We just don’t know yet how deep that price adjustment will be,” declared Cozier.

He assured though, that the price reduction would be more substantial than in the past. The dairy director also said he would need to meet with the farmers shortly to work out a plan to avoid a recurrence of this situation. He noted, too, that the nature of any future adjustments to the existing milk quota from farmers would be determined by the true benefits of the Government package.

In response, President of the Dairy and Beef Producers Association of Barbados, Brian Allen, told Barbados TODAY this afternoon, the farmers were extremely happy with the Government initiative. Allen even went further to say, he was surprised by what the minister was able to provide.

He noted that Estwick did plenty of research on the issue and identified the imported almond milk substitute as “the killer” of the industry.

6 Responses to PHD and farmers happy with minister’s milk solution

  1. Sharmian August 31, 2013 at 5:07 am

    If they hadn’t ruined the excellent local fresh milk by introducing the new process, which effectively turned it into long life milk – a disgusting product – the consumption would not have fallen. PHD only have themselves to blame and I feel sorry for those who have no alternative than to buy their third rate product.

    • Phil August 31, 2013 at 7:31 am

      Agreed, they just don’t seem to get this. 2% was delicious, then they changed it and the taste was nowhere as good, yet they kept insisting that the flavor hadn’t changed.

  2. Rosemary Parkinson August 31, 2013 at 10:47 am

    PHD was Pine Hill Dairy’s biggest mistake. Barbados prided itself on being the only pure fresh milk dairy in the Caribbean…their 2% and full cream lauded as the best – even when compared to American and European milk. And then came those amazing rocket scientists…”why give good milk when we can hit them with PHD crap and we will make more money because we can store this for years to come.”

    All that money spent to “modernize into monster milk” when it could have been spent for equipment to make a myriad of products from milk… Apart from the 280,000 or so souls who live on the island, we have restaurants, hotels (with cooks and chefs) and thousands of visitors who could very easily have been proud to use excellent quality (the WORD being EXCELLENT…not half-arsed but excellent – yes! bring in REAL experts and listen and learn – cause I ent believe that we brains any different from those in the UK and Europe and New Zealand and Australia – and their dairy products are excellent) Bajan Butter, Bajan Full & Half Half Cream, Bajan Cheese (of all kinds), Bajan Buttermilk, et al – even great yoghurt (your yoghurt was not great Pine Hill). So many products from milk…so many. I am not convinced that Pine Hill Dairy could not only have given this to Barbados but could have exported all of these products to other islands..more employment…more opportunities for the young to educate themselves in the science of milk and its by-products…and then there is marketing…and stopping the imports so that the local would have a chance.

    But then…I am just a dreamer, right?

    I also commend the Minister of Agriculture…but how long will this all last if we still have “bad tasting milk” and we are importing huge quantities of the other products we could be making right here in Barbados. Maybe I am .chuped….and need someone to explain to me what I just do not comprehend.

  3. P MAC August 31, 2013 at 11:19 am

    PHD needs to wake up and smell the coffee. I believe that reason why milk sales have dropped is simply because Bajans are not happy with the product. I bought several “bad batches of milk”, some which smelt like oil for some strange reason. I find the product quality to be very inconsistent, sometimes watery, others extremely thick. Frankly it does not taste that great. I have heard people in my office joking about how horrible the product is. I switched to Almond milk… No apologies PHD but your products “sucks”.

  4. Breadfruit September 1, 2013 at 7:42 am

    I used to buy the 2% for my family, when they changed the treatment, no one would drink it, so strangely enough we don’t buy it. Why would you expect the public to buy a product they don’t like? Blaming everyone & everyone else for your mistake is so naïve. We buy local whole milk straight from the farm or from Carltons which tastes like milk is supposed to taste. Get real.

  5. Bajan Abroad September 1, 2013 at 9:53 am

    People are looking to get healthy and eat better and would pay for proper products….fresh milk being one of them. Give the market what it wants and demand will increase.


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