Barbados could turn to Jamaica to fill gap as supply remains low
Barbados is examining the possibility of sourcing eggs from Jamaica to fill the current severe shortage.
And Barbados TODAY understands that Government officials could be developing a new policy to help in the sourcing of the commodity going forward.
When contacted, chief executive officer of the Barbados Agricultural Society (BAS) James Paul declined to comment.
However, a report in The Gleaner in Jamaica today suggested that the BAS had made contact with the Jamaica Egg Farmers Association about a week ago with an initial enquiry for 300,000 table eggs.
President Roy Baker said the association was still awaiting word from the BAS on whether it would accept 200,000 eggs.
The newspaper quoted Paul as saying that the deal was in limbo since the BAS was trying to ascertain the feasibility of doing business with Jamaica rather than the US. He also said he would prefer to do business with a Caribbean country, if the price was right.
“The price would have been a big factor because, remember that we also import from out of Miami, so Jamaicans would have to compete with that, so that would have been a consideration,” he told The Gleaner.
“But the thing is that no firm decision has been reached at the moment in terms of the eggs. At this stage, I can’t tell you that we are proceeding as it stands right now. We are waiting for a reaction in terms of what type of price we would need to source them out of Jamaica, in order to facilitate the order.”
Baker told the newspaper the one-off order would have been a welcome opportunity for Jamaica which had been eyeing Barbados for some time and would be willing to take a loss on the shipment, just to get a foothold into the regional market.
Meantime, one local industry source told Barbados TODAY a report from the Ministry of Agriculture on the matter could be forthcoming as early as tomorrow.
“You’ve got to look to CARICOM first, in any case, before you can look to anybody else . . . ,” he said.The source confirmed that the shortage of layers had contributed to the shortage of eggs here, but said that was being “sorted out”.
“We have the eggs already and we are hatching the chickens and they will be put in place soon. Last year we had a difficulty in getting the hatching eggs in time to hatch them for last year. We were about six months behind, but we have them now,” he said.
He also noted that the price of eggs in the US had gone up “and the availability of eggs has been very short”.
Over the 2014 Christmas season, the majority of the hotels and restaurants in Barbados were affected by the shortage but the supply to that industry had been restored. The shortfall was eased following the importation of about 900 cases, or an estimated 324,000 eggs.
President of the Barbados Hotel and Tourism Association (BHTA) Sunil Chatrani confirmed that the group’s members were getting a steady supply.
“Some members were affected in December and we contacted the Barbados Agricultural Society and arrangements were made where the hotels would basically be secured in terms of receiving their supplies of eggs. So the hotels have not had any problems since. I have not had any complaints from those hotels or restaurants,” he said.
However, it was a slightly different tune from at least one of the island’s most popular supermarket chains. A supervisor at Carlton A1, who did not want to be identified, told Barbados TODAY that as quickly as the eggs were put on the shelves they were sold.
Although she could not say how much supply had been reduced by, she noted that the supermarket was not getting the usual amount.