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Bajans need to buy local

There is concern within the manufacturing sector that some small businesses could cease operation if Barbadians continue to buy imported goods over those locally made.

In addition, executive director of the Barbados Manufacturing Association (BMA), Bobbi McKay, expressed concerns that some supermarkets continued to place imported items in more strategic locations on shelves over local products, adding that some stores were guilty of not wanting to sell Barbadian products at all.

In an interview yesterday with Barbados TODAY, McKay said the BMA was monitoring the situation, and would be embarking on a new sensitization and marketing campaign to encourage Barbadians to buy more locally produced items so that businesses could keep workers employed.

“We noticed a new trend over the last six to eight months where Barbadian products are being relocated on the shelves to raise the imported products to eye level and we will be monitoring that because we are concerned,” she said.

“If Barbadians are not working, they wont have the available resources to buy the imports. So there needs to be a level playing field there where Barbadian products get a fair share of place at eye level,” said McKay.

She said: “We got a call recently that a foreign-owned supermarket chain called one of our small manufacturers and told her to remove her marinades because they had a container coming in with marinades.

“This just does not make sense. We keep speaking to the fact that if Barbadians are not working, you can get all the imports in the world that you want, but we have to be able to afford to purchase them”.

McKay also said there was a growing trend in online shopping for overseas products.

“Barbadians are spending money. They are spending money online. If you see the amount of products coming in, whether it is from Amazon or wherever, Barbadians are spending money. But they are not stopping to think about their decisions,” she said.

“Let’s just keep Barbadians working,” pleaded McKay.

McKay said, however, that the manufacturing sector was “holding its own” and she was not getting any sense from manufacturers at the moment that any layoffs were imminent.

She said she remained positive the sector would continue to perform well.

She also noted that for 2013 there was a noticeable increase in the production of unique products ranging from footwear, food and toys.

“What is pleasing me is seeing people coming with products that I have never seen before made locally . . . . I don’t know if that is a sign that we are becoming more innovative,” she said.

“So those are the kinds of things we want to encourage because they are world-class. But the challenge is making sure the stores carry them,” she said. (MM)

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