Imported Chicken Threatens Local Jobs

TRINIDAD & TOBAGO - An over-supply of chicken as the result of imports is causing local producers and retailers to cut prices and thus, local jobs are under threat.
calendar icon 18 January 2011
clock icon 3 minute read

Poultry producers and pluck shop owners have complained that millions of kilogrammes of imported chicken were over-supplying the local market and threatening jobs in the industry, reports Trinidad Express.

Robin Phillips, president of the Poultry Association of Trinidad and Tobago, said information he obtained suggested that permits to import four million kilogrammes of chicken into the country were given out in the last quarter of 2010.

He told the newspaper in a phone interview that this caused an over-supply of chicken on the local market and affected producers and farmers. He said he could not confirm exactly how much chicken was imported but it was worrying to the industry.

There was information that some importers were defrosting frozen chicken and retailing the poultry parts as 'fresh' chicken, he said.

Producers who supply to local farmers who then offer poultry to pluck shops are being affected since their cold storage facilities are full with unsold poultry, Mr Phillips said.

The local market consumes 850,000 chickens every week, he said, adding that the importers had placed an extra million chicken a week in the system, causing an over-supply in the market.

Pluck Shop Association president, Imam Rasheed Karim, told Trinidad Express that he had gone from selling 300 chickens a day to between 60 to 70 birds. Mr Karim operates the Island Chicken depot in Chaguanas.

He said imported chicken – retailed mostly at supermarkets – sold for about $7 per pound while chicken at poultry depots usually sold at about $9.

But now, pluck shops are selling fewer birds and had to drop their prices to sell extra stocks of poultry.

He said pluck shops also required less stock from farmers and this could also affect employment.

With chickens that are not sold costing more to maintain as they got bigger and older, Mr Karim said if local sales continued to fall, the jobs of 10,000 workers in the industry could be under threat within two to three weeks.

The good news is that the over-supply of poultry has resulted in specials at pluck shops where customers have been getting deals like four chickens for $100, reports Trinidad Express.

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