Barbadian Industry Suffers from Cheap Meat Imports

BARBADOS - The poultry industry is blaming its present difficulties on the import of turkey wings duty-free.
calendar icon 21 September 2009
clock icon 3 minute read

Sales of local poultry have fallen, and the industry is blaming imported turkey wings entering the country duty-free, according to Barbados Advocate.

Speaking to Business Monday, Carlyle Brathwaite, president of the Barbados Egg and Poultry Producers Association (BEPPA), said: "The industry has been going under some stress. This is because these turkey wings have reduced sales in chickens by approximately 30 per cent."

Earlier this year, the government decided that turkey wings from the US can enter the country free of duties. He said: "This makes the turkey wings more competitive on the local market, which is severely undermining the local poultry industry."

He explained that the turkey wings are coming in duty-free, and they are also being subsidised with billions of dollars in the United States, which makes them cheaper.

"This makes them a lot more competitive on the market than the locally-produced chickens. As a result, our chickens cannot compete with these turkey wings and sales are declining."

Mr Brathwaite further spoke to the dangers of the situation to the local poultry industry, mentioning that it will mostly affect small farmers.

He said: "This will cause a lot of small farmers to go out of business. Small businesses represent 40 per cent of the industry. If these small farmers drop out, the industry will be destroyed."

He emphasised that the country's poultry industry was doing a lot better before the duty-free importation of turkey wings.

"The problem is the turkey wings," he stressed. "If the wings do not come in, the local industry will be fine; but as long as these turkey wings are coming in, the local poultry industry will suffer."

With the local markets being saturated with foreign turkey wings, the question arises of local producers attempting to access other markets abroad.

"We don't do a lot of exports," Mr Brathwaite said. "We're trying to do that but there is some difficulty where that is concerned."

Nonetheless, the BEPPA president does not deny that other factors have contributed, in small part, to the decline in the poultry industry this year, the main one being the current economic recession.

Barbados Advocate reports him saying: "We've had some drop-off in business, maybe five per cent or so because of loss of jobs and also because of the decline in tourism but these factors are not significant enough to cause such a drastic decline in the industry."

Mr Brathwaite has contacted some ministers to set up meetings aimed at arriving at a solution.

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