You must be nuts

Coconut vendors fire back at Thirlwell

Roadside coconut vendors have hit back at BICO Executive Chairman Edwin Thirwell, who Tuesday questioned their hygiene practices and the quality of the water they sell.

In defence of the importation 900 cases of coconut water from Guyana, Thirlwell had argued that there was a shortage of high quality coconut water on the island, and that not everyone was satisfied with the hygiene practices of local roadside vendors.

“There are issues already with the health department over the hygiene practices of the roadside coconut vendors . . . there is a concern there, just the same as there is at Crop Over where people prepare the chicken and leave it out there in the warmers. There are food safety issues in there,” he said.

However, the vendors today challenged the businessman’s assertions about their health practices, telling Barbados TODAY they had been complying with state health certification requirements for food vending.

In addition, those involved in the lucrative local trade questioned the quality of imported coconut water, arguing that the nature of the liquid did not allow for long haul shipping without the use of preservatives.

“Coconut water is a thing that would go off in seven days in a fridge. So there is no way you can ship fresh coconut water from Guyana and it don’t go off. What we are selling is all natural and put in brand new bottles. What they are selling is not fresh. So you have to ask which one of us has the higher quality product,” said Marlon David, who operates with a group of four on the stretch of the ABC Highway near the Dome Mall in Warrens, St Michael.

Coconut vendor Marlon David is defending the quality of local coconut water.

“If you look at us we are dressed properly – the shirts might have a little stains but that is to be expected. The health department asked us to get health certificates and we all went by the polyclinic and got them.”

The coconut water traders also denied there had been a shortage of high quality coconut water on the island, as the BICO boss had contended.

They said they had been able to satisfy the market demands even during the dry season.

“ We don’t have any shortages. We have been able to supply the people of Barbados all year round. It is true that we would want farmers to grow more coconuts, but people don’t come to buy and leave empty handed. We have a bottle for everybody,” contended another vendor, who operates at Graeme Hall, Christ Church.

The local vendors were convinced that the importation of the refreshing drink was meant “to cut out the small businessman”.

However, they said this was nothing new, since they had been competing against canned coconut water for a long time.

“The supermarkets have been treating us well, and even though canned coconut water has been coming in for a while people still prefer to buy ours because it is cheaper and it is straight from the shell. So we are not really worried about that all because Bajans prefer our product,” a confident Marcus Wiltshire said.

Chief Executive Officer of the Barbados Agricultural Society James Paul this week appealed to Barbadians not to support the imported product, while charging that “this reckless type of activity” was aimed at “sabotaging employment within a viable sector”.

36 Responses to You must be nuts

  1. Jai Khan
    Jai Khan February 8, 2017 at 11:23 pm

    Tell Thirwell to take the moat out of his eye first. Where is the consumer protection band on Bico ice cream? Anybody could lift off the card covers and have access to the icecream just so. ….so don’t talk about the vendors and the crop over chicken… you play your hand but yuh icecream tail already showing.
    I sorry you don’t have to drink every drop

  2. Andrena Ceasar
    Andrena Ceasar February 9, 2017 at 12:12 am

    Well let our actions speak for us

  3. Lennox Hewitt
    Lennox Hewitt February 9, 2017 at 12:18 am

    I backing coconut men wunna buys my coconuts only problem wunna hate to cut limbs from my trees .

  4. Lennox Hewitt
    Lennox Hewitt February 9, 2017 at 12:20 am

    U mean sein rong the container like tape yea u right well put pressure on he now

  5. Rubertha Blackman
    Rubertha Blackman February 9, 2017 at 12:22 am

    Good for the coconut vendors, as a Bajan I found Thirwell comments extremely offensive. Maybe he could give us the stats on who got ill from buying roadside coconut water and how many died.

  6. Jennifer February 9, 2017 at 12:52 am

    @Andrena – agreed. These people have been trying to cut out those coconut vendors for years. Canned coconut water taste nothing like it is from a coconut, so the bottled one will be likely the same. Nothing can beat a fresh coconut recently picked. These men need to stop telling people how much money they make too, only an idiot does that. It is totally your business, be careful with snakes. When these corporations making millions they do not say.

  7. Jennifer February 9, 2017 at 1:00 am

    @Lennox- When a price is agreed for the cost of the coconuts. Cutting of limbs should be a separate price tag either wise that is exploitation too, the coconuts did not come free.

  8. Sunshine Sunny Shine February 9, 2017 at 1:07 am

    How has Barbados come to this. You mean just for the sake of white business we are going to let dictate every area of black Barbadian lives. This is just an attempt to take over the coconut water business. All the fellas have to do is get more organize and present themselves a little more professional

  9. Cleveland Gibson
    Cleveland Gibson February 9, 2017 at 1:18 am

    Hey….see who’s getting a draw back. Bajan parlance . Money passing.

  10. Jennifer February 9, 2017 at 1:21 am

    @Sunshine SS – Listen hun, Barbados was always like this. As long as you are living among your oppressors this will be the end result.

  11. Wayne Spooner
    Wayne Spooner February 9, 2017 at 1:33 am

    There is noway barbados should be importing coconut water, With all those trees there?? I wouldn’t buy any coconut water from a store in barbados unless it was packaged locally from local coconuts.

  12. Hal Austin February 9, 2017 at 5:07 am

    Boycott BICO. Our only remaining strength is our consumer power.

  13. harry turnover February 9, 2017 at 6:05 am

    You talking bout HiIGH QUALITY COCONUT WATER Thirwell and saying that IMPORTED ( STALE) coconut water has a HIGHER QUALITY than water STRAIGHT from the SHELL ?….man YOU would got to be a nincomPOOP of the highest order.
    Thirwell the COCONUT bottles here have a SEAL on them …DO YOU KNOW WHY ?? so WHY don’t YOU and WUNNA put SEALS on WUNNA ICE CREAM CONTAINERS for the PUBLICS’ SAFTEY
    ANYBODY from WITHIN or WITHOUT can lift the covers put in any SH8 cover them back and REFREEZE them and wunna could be in BIG BIG trouble if something happens.
    THIRWELL…YOU DON”T KNOW THAT ?? get wunna house in order FIRST before you jump on the bandwagon to criticize BLACK PEOPLE and while you are at it look up the meanings of QUALITY,FRESH and STALE.

  14. Jennifer February 9, 2017 at 6:14 am

    @harry T O -Well said.

  15. Tony Webster February 9, 2017 at 6:26 am

    If ANY of wunna had ANY idea of running a large company, whose name, brand, reputation has been built -up over almost a hundred years- and is now a proud, trusted, household Bajan brand, and you faced the options Mr. Thirlwell faced…you would do the very same thing. Don’t overlook BICO’s responsibilities in using the ISO logo and associated HACCP standards in everything they produce.

    It’s the same thing with our many very good, artisanal/ craft folks who can turn out wonderful items such as cotton dresses, or home-made soaps, etc etc, but just cannot make the leap to the next level (s) of large-scale production, wide public use, and building a respected (and very valuable) brand. I will not be the only Bajan who will CONTINUE to buy BICO products with my eyes shut, and mout open…and wid my brain functioning.

    BTW: I will continue to buy fresh coconut water from my favourite vendor too!

  16. Elaine Van Huis February 9, 2017 at 7:14 am

    There is all kinds of bottled coconut water in America, but when I come home the coconut street vendor is a welcome site. It usually is my first purchase. I will take the one from the street vendor any day. It is fresh. I see him cut it and pour it. I am suspect of bottled coconut water. It does not taste the same and we don’t know what the condition of the facility it was bottled in.

  17. Bajan boy February 9, 2017 at 7:43 am

    We allow every alien to come bout here and take control of our country and do what ever they please. Another example of a weak governmrnt. Makes James Paul looks like he is from the Russian Patliament. The ex patri got more say than a law maker we really gone uo the dogs.

  18. Sonia Seale February 9, 2017 at 8:22 am

    I wonder why the two comments about Bico Ice cream are being made on this forum. This irregularity should have been Brought to the attention of the BNSI . Roberts Manufacturing was doing the same thing for a long time and they finally got it right with a plastic seal some years ago. Maybe it was brought to the attention of the BNSI. Any how now that it has been publicized , I hope that the necessary adjustments to the standards would be made and that all the other brands of Ice cream would be scrutinized to see if they also are falling short.

  19. kathy-Ann Clarke February 9, 2017 at 8:27 am

    All bajans need to get together and boycott this issue. NO ONE should ever in their right mind support MR. Thirwell in the venture. The best coconut water is straight from the vendor, MR. Thirwell, stickto selling Ice -cream !!

  20. Peter February 9, 2017 at 8:30 am

    There is absolutely no doubt whatsoever that coconut water directly poured from the nut is the freshest. My point here is the vendors need to carry up their standards. Observe all the unhealthy issues and requirements. Use proper gloves, clean utensils. Stop hassling and hustling customers. Keep your surroundings clean Especially after you are finished for the day. Be mannerly and don’t endanger people’s lives by having them park badly. If you up your standards NO importer will stop your sales effort. I think however that BICO is using coconut water as a testing ground for the introduction of other coconut bi-products. Trinidad buys Guyana coconuts fresh and still in the shell at US$ 0.25 cents per nut. It is cut by the vendor and thus it’s still fresh and cool too. Water is not all, Bi-products can make plenty money too without wasting certain parts of the coconut. With due respect, Edwin Thirwell, being Jewish, is think like a Jew, and quite within his rights to so do.

  21. Cheryl February 9, 2017 at 8:33 am

    Years now I don’t buy Bico – stop tasting good years ago. White – local and foreign – feel they can treat black however they like and we allow it. Boycott the damn company – we a re 95%. Shut he down

  22. Bill February 9, 2017 at 8:50 am

    Is the coconut water which is sold in the supermarkets not bottled in Barbados? I’m sure that one of the labels is local. However all we want from the vendors along the streets is for them to employ good hygiene practices and I am confident that their businesses will continue to grow

  23. Frank White February 9, 2017 at 8:50 am

    I enjoyed reading all these comments, this is how we as black people need to speak, support our black businesses, Black Nationalism. All it is that these hillbillies want to get rich off us blacks but will not spend a cent with the black community. I encourage all of the black community not to buy any of that coconut water but one thing is for sure, the so called white community will support him…

  24. Chris February 9, 2017 at 8:56 am

    Does everything have to come down to black and white.

  25. Kevin February 9, 2017 at 9:16 am

    Yes, I knew coconut water do not have a long shelf life. Maybe preservatives are in the imported ones?

  26. Idgaf February 9, 2017 at 9:33 am

    So dem want to cut out the small man and leave poor people poorer and the rich more wealthy? Cocnut water was selling roadside before I born. Keep winna blasted imported and drink um winna selves. I buying from de local bajans that working hard for an honest dollar. Bajans would be soo stupid to embrace this gimmick. Just now dem gine pollute this pla e and sell we air.

  27. Kathy February 9, 2017 at 10:29 am

    It amazes me to what extent some of these business people does try to come up with excuses to import items into our island. Mr Thirwell cannot be serious. He like he have taken leave of his right mind to come up with that excuse. I guess that he personally went to whatever company in Guyana and see them cut the coconut and put them in the containers that they coming to Barbados in. He really think that we Bajans foolish. What we need to do from now on is to investigate the quality of the product we getting Bico closely, to the the extent where we see it and leave it where it is on the shelf.

  28. Donild Trimp February 9, 2017 at 11:57 am

    On this one I have to support the roadside coconut vendors 100%.

    I always buy my coconut water from the roadside vendors every time I visit Barbados. This is the type of entrepreneurial spirit needed in Barbados.

    All I can say to Mr.Thirwell, your statements leads in one direction and that is towards an individual who appears to be silly and stupid.

  29. Francis February 9, 2017 at 1:09 pm

    Just to make a point. BICO is NOT manufactured in Barbados.
    Ask the goodly gentleman at BICO when will he start manufacturing BICO in Bim again.
    I used to buy BICO but I have no obligation now as the ice creams are all imported. Nuff said on that.

  30. Janice hinds February 9, 2017 at 1:42 pm

    Kudos to the coconut vendors of Barbados. We will always buy local food or drinks.

  31. Tom February 9, 2017 at 2:48 pm

    What is wrong with the coconut vendors maintaining a high level of hygiene at all times? They should also be encourage to get together( form a cooperative ) and lease some of the vast acres of idle land we have here to plant more coconut trees to met their future supplies. Let us fight our competitors by showing them that we intend to beat at their game by being better than they are.

  32. Karen White February 9, 2017 at 3:52 pm

    Send BICO a message for the insults and professional attacks to local suppliers…BOYCOTT ALL BICO PRODUCTS…make BICO feel.

  33. Ann Harding February 9, 2017 at 6:44 pm

    Best marketing possible for the local coconut water vendors! I applaud Chief Executive Officer of the Barbados Agricultural Society James Paul, for his support of local producers. Fresh is best!

  34. Jennifer February 9, 2017 at 8:07 pm

    95% Black, 5% ownership. The more things change the more they remain the same. Keep sleeping.

  35. Wayne Denny February 9, 2017 at 8:12 pm

    My concern in this situation is this. Why did the goverment issue an importation permit to bico to import this coconut water, knowing full well that the company was’nt using it as an ingredient for ice cream, but to sell to other supermarkets. This hurts me because there are vendors who have to support their families through vending coconut water.I’m not a coconut vendor, but i’m very fed up with the behavior of this inept administration as it pertains to poor black Barbadians. Do you remember the container of chicken wings that flew into Barbados?This foolishness has to stop. It is evident that in the eyes of these politicians, poor black Barbadians are lower than the dirt we walk on, so in a case like this we have to send a very clear, strong message to this goverment, and the way to do that is by voting them out of office when the election bell is rung. I won’t lie, I gave them my support at the two previous elections, but that was the last time that my name will ever be mentioned in the same sentence as the Democratic Labour Party.

  36. Miss eva February 10, 2017 at 10:50 am

    When we buy from the vendors we can guarantee how and where the water was bottled… Coz we stand up and watch.. But I don’t have a clue who or where that water come from… U can’t expect men to be handling Coochie and not get their clothes spattered and we all know that stains.. U want the men wear dress shirts to sell coconuts? Stupessssss. The water taste very good to me. He talking a load of hog wash… Sell me local ice-cream then u could talk


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