Barbados looks to Jamaica to ease egg shortage
Christopher Serju, Gleaner Writer
A WEEK after the initial enquiry for the sale of 300,000 table eggs, the Jamaica Egg Farmers Association is still awaiting word from the Barbados Agricultural Society as to whether it will accept 200,000 eggs to help alleviate a severe shortage that is putting pressure on the tourism product in that country, where ham, eggs and sausages are staples on the tourism menu.
"The people them nuh give me nuh order. I don't hear gun fire from them," Roy Baker, president of the Jamaica Egg Farmers Association told The Gleaner.
Baker said the immediacy of the large request had sent his association's membership scrambling to meet the demand, but he was confident it could meet two thirds of the amount, based on the short time frame.
DEAL IN LIMBO
Meanwhile, James Paul, president of the Barbados Agricultural Society, a non-governmental organisation, said the deal was in limbo as it tries to ascertain the feasibility of doing business with the Jamaicans rather than sourcing the eggs out of the United States.
Paul said Barbados would much prefer to do business with a Caribbean country, if the price is right.
"The price would have been a big factor because, remember that we also import from out of Miami, so Jamaicans would have to compete with that, so that would have been a consideration," he told The Gleaner.
"But the thing is that no firm decision has been reached at the moment in terms of the eggs. At this stage, I can't tell you that we are proceeding as it stands right now. We are waiting for a reaction in terms of what type of price we would need to source them out of Jamaica, in order to facilitate the order," he added.
Baker said the one-off order was a welcome opportunity for Jamaica which had been eyeing Barbados for some time and would be willing to take a loss on the shipment, just to get a foothold into the regional market.
With 900 cases in a trailer and each case holding 30 dozen eggs, that would amount to 27,000 eggs, and, at a cost of US$3 per dozen, would net some US$81,000, with the cost of shipment about US$2,500.
"We want the opportunity to sell them and make them see some good- quality eggs. We send off the quotation and then we haven't heard anything else about a week now. Their preference is for small eggs, medium really, and our regular market is large eggs," Baker explained.
"So we were going to give them the large eggs at medium eggs price ... we would have lost some money, but we were going to do it in the name of export and earning foreign exchange. We would have done it!"