Mon | Jan 18, 2021

Meat shops squeal about Christmas pork shortage

Published:Wednesday | December 2, 2020 | 3:05 AMPaul Clarke/Gleaner Writer
Rushon Grey cuts up pork for his customers inside the Spanish Town market on Tuesday. Meat shop operators in the Old Capital are fearful that there will be below-normal supplies of pork for Christmas.
Rushon Grey cuts up pork for his customers inside the Spanish Town market on Tuesday. Meat shop operators in the Old Capital are fearful that there will be below-normal supplies of pork for Christmas.

Meat suppliers and vendors in Spanish Town, St Catherine, say they are adequately stocked for Christmas but are worried that customers might not be pigging out as usual.

Andrew Ellis of Andrew’s Meat and More, located inside the Spanish Town Market on Wellington Street, said all the signs are pointing to a scarcity of pork.

“Based on what we are noticing, we’re going to have all the usual meats, with the exception of pork, because as things stand, pork meat is scarce,” Ellis said on Tuesday.

He theorises that the importation of pork a few years ago caused a glut and resulted in many pig farmers exiting the business.

“While some have returned to raising pigs, the majority have stayed away, and from what I know, this is what’s causing the scarcity at this time,” Ellis said, adding that he has sufficient beef, chicken and local mutton in stock, ahead of the expected Christmas rush.

Andrew’s Meat and More provides meats to CPJ as well as several restaurants across the Old Capital, Portmore, Kingston, and St Andrew.

Victor Johnson, a meat vendor in Junior’s Meat World, also located inside the Spanish Town market, agrees that there may be a below-normal supply of pork for Christmas.

DIM REVENUE PROJECTIONS

He wondered aloud if pig farmers were saving their stock to tap higher prices amid spiking demand closer to December 25, but he fears that he won’t be laughing all the way to the bank because of dimmer revenue projections. Pork retails for about $400 per pound.

“Pork is a traditional Christmas meat, and Jamaicans love dem pork meat, so I am sure I won’t be making as much money as before seeing that we don’t have much pork to sell the people,” said Johnson.

At the same time, one pig farmer who declined to be named, disclosed that he had enough pork already on ice and hoped to cash in on the scarcity.

“Apart from meat such as cow head, mutton, chicken, and beef, I have a nice amount of pork in the fridge that I know will be sold off really quick, and as the minister said, we should have a good Christmas in spite of everything that’s going on,” the farmer said.

Operators of other meat shops also said that pork was hard to come by but noted that all other “Christmas meats” were in stock in healthy quantities.

Two abattoirs visited by the Gleaner team on Tuesday were closed.

Last week, Floyd Green, the agriculture minister, told the nation that the ministry has been monitoring the supply chain in light of the more than $2-billion hit to farms by recent heavy rains.

He said, however, that there were sufficient supplies of tubers like yams and sweet potatoes and meats.

“In fact, this Christmas, we expect to have the largest production of chicken the country has ever seen. Both our major producers are higher than pre-COVID levels in relation to production,” Green had said.

paul.clarke@gleanerjm.com