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Egg sales get cracking! - Farmer mystified by 30% jump in sales

Published:Tuesday | March 31, 2020 | 12:13 AM
Derrick Scott, owner of St Bess Eggs in New River, St Elizabeth.
Derrick Scott, owner of St Bess Eggs in New River, St Elizabeth.

An unanticipated uptick in demand for table eggs over the past two weeks has Derrick Scott puzzled and apprehensive, even as he welcomes the increased business.

From his farm in New River, St Elizabeth, last Friday, the businessman told The Gleaner that he believes consumers are buying more eggs as families stock up on food, with tens of thousands of children at home and increased numbers of parents working remotely.

This, in response to a government appeal for people to stay off the streets and to venture out only on essential business in keeping with the need to curb the spread of COVID-19.

Schools were ordered closed as at March 13 and will remain shuttered until the end of Easter.

The pandemic has ground the tourism sector to a halt, with hotels closing and restaurants limiting their service to takeout, with in-house dining banned. Egg farmers who supplied these businesses have been hard hit, but Scott, who services the wholesale demand for supermarkets primarily, has come in for a welcome surprise over the past fortnight.

“My egg sales jumped by 30 per cent over the past two weeks,” he disclosed.

To meet the new demand, Scott has been buying eggs from farmers who usually supply the tourism sector but now find themselves with surplus on their hands.

The farmer, who markets under his own brand, St Bess Eggs, and his staff have had to be putting in longer hours – but not all of it has to do with the spurt in business.

Work paying off

“We have been working longer hours, getting up earlier and hitting the road sooner, because supermarkets are closing off their delivery areas, most of them by three to four o’clock,” he explained.

Scott’s islandwide business network is fairly extensive, with St Mary, Portland, and St Thomas being the only parishes in which he does not have direct sales. On Friday, he made deliveries to the towns of Junction, Santa Cruz, and Black River in St Elizabeth and Savanna-la-Mar in Westmoreland.

The egg farmer admits to being caught off-guard by the increased demand, given the devastating blow to farmers whose businesses have, for years, depended on the stability of the tourism sector. It is for this reason that the businessman is a little mystified – and not overly optimistic – by the growth in sales.

“I’m taking it day by day. You can’t get too excited because it is kinda scary, due to the uncertainty in the market, and I still can’t quite figure what exactly is driving this new growth,” he declared matter-of-factly.