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Copperwood says pork shortage is cooked up

Published:Friday | March 6, 2015 | 12:00 AMTameka Gordon

Copperwood Pork, operated by the Caribbean Broilers Group, has hit back against claims of a shortage of the meat to processors, saying it is motivated by efforts to gain market advantage through imports.

"The cries of specific processors to import pork are more about gaining a competitive price advantage over other local competitors than due to the lack of availability," the company said in a statement in further response to a story on the shortage and the push to open up imports published on February 25.

Market players said then that while there was no shortage of pork for consumers, some meat processors noted that the meat, as raw material, was insufficient to meet rising demand for their products, and the Ministry of Agriculture also conceded that supplies were insufficient. CB Group said then that it was willing to supply pork to those facing shortages.

Copperwood says the shortage is minimal.

"A shortage is not being seen on a macro level. However, it is very possible that there has been a

shift in the abilities of some stakeholders to supply the market versus others," the company said this week.

"Local supplies of those same products have not been exhausted and some processors currently have excess stock," Copperwood said.

Buy from each other

The Ministry of Agriculture has not banned pork imports but has kept a check on the number of import permits. The ministry has over the years urged processors to buy from each other in the event their supplies run low.

CB Group says Copperwood is in a position to do just that.

"With over 200,000 kilogrammes of pork in storage, plus a steady flow of pigs each week into the plant, we have more than enough pork to meet our current customer requirements and extra capacity to expand as well," said Corporate Affairs Manager of CB Group, Dr Keith Amiel.

The company said it is aware that local farmers are making strides in improving their breed stock, with consistent supply expected in the market "in short order".

To avoid a glut when the market stabilises, however, Amiel said farmers should secure markets before increasing production.

"The last time there was a shortage of pork in 2009 there was a massive influx of new and returning pig farmers, which led to one of the worst gluts in the history of the industry between 2011 and 2014," he said. "During this period, numerous farmers were forced out of business, and tens of millions of dollars in investment were lost."