Egg producers promising no repeat of last year’s shortfall
There should be no scrambling for eggs this Christmas or throughout the heightened winter tourist season.
Even with an increase in both sea and air visitor arrivals and the traditional swell in baking activities at this time of year, officials are giving the assurance that eggs will be in abundance for both individuals and businesses.
Last year, with only two days to go before Christmas Day, the country ran low on table eggs due to a mechanical failure that disrupted the feed supply to chickens.
That was said to have abruptly knocked 35,000 chickens out of the egg-laying business, causing supermarkets to run low on the commodity and leaving consumers scrambling.
As a result the Barbados Agricultural Society (BAS) had to step in to fill the shortfall by importing 900 cases or an estimated 324,000 eggs.
However, officials say egg producers were more careful this year and more proactive.
In fact, President of the Barbados Egg and Poultry Producers Association Carlyle Brathwaite said the number of fowls laying at present is almost double the number they had at this time last year.
“We have 239,000 layers laying this year. Last year was only 124,000 that we had laying,” reported Brathwaite.
“And there is more than adequate amount of eggs on the market. I just came from the supermarkets and they are full,” added Brathwaite.
And while some farmers continue to feel the effects of the lack of rainfall, Brathwaite said egg and poultry farmers should have adequate water stored.
“It is nothing we are not aware of. We were being proactive enough to put in water tanks a few years back so that all our places have in water tanks for storage. I don’t think water should be a problem unless it is a matter of two weeks or so that water is not there,” said Brathwaite.
Chief Executive Officer of the BAS James Paul also confirmed there were “no difficulties at this time”, adding that egg producers were adequately serving the consumers.
And with tourism officials expecting a bumper winter season with increases in both cruise and airlift arrivals, Paul welcomed the news, saying egg producers would be able to take advantage of those increases.
For the winter season an estimated 700,000 cruise passengers and over 200,000 air passengers are expected to visit the island.
“Placements this year has been higher than last year, and I am hoping that the higher placements that we have this year we will be able to cater to and adequately address the demand for the products,” said Paul.
In relation to the lower-than-usual rainfall affecting the island, Paul said some areas were more severely affected than others. And the buy-local advocate said if the situation persisted it could negatively impact the egg industry.
“Some of our egg producers are in areas that are affected by water shortages like in St Lucy. If egg farms go without water what happens is that it affects the laying of the eggs. Once you take water from the fowl it takes a while for them to come back up to speed. And that is the only issue that is [potentially] faced by some producers and that is only in St Lucy. But generally we have adequate
eggs on the market to service consumer demand,” explained Paul.