by Latoya Burnham
While one large egg producer has launched a new campaign he hopes will drive the replacement of egg substitutes in hotels with the real thing, the Barbados Egg and Poultry Producers Association says it will take up a Government directive to help push the industry to this next level.
Rains this morning caused the postponement of what was to be a major launch of his Egg Sea campaign at Port St. Charles in the north, but Managing Director of Star Chick, Wendell Clarke, said he was still pushing hard for a link between agriculture and tourism using eggs.
He said he had plans to use his newest mascot, Egg C, on local beaches, where a station would be set up to boil and distribute eggs for consumption persons bathed. Clarke, a former head of the association himself, added that he knew it was an unconventional way of thinking about the issue, but if they were to encourage tourists to consume more natural eggs and by extension get them to urge the places where they eat to also use the local product, such out-of-the-box thinking was necessary.
“We want to encourage them to use the egg itself rather than the egg powder and whatever else because right now we prefer them to get cracking with our local eggs… Most of the egg powder is imported and we want to stop that. Today, the theme is to eat local … products and we want to give them a way to [do that].”
He was speaking during a visit to All Saint’s Primary School for World Egg Day today, where he noted that a large percentage of what his company, Star Chick, produced was done in-house, but they were also committed to supporting other small farmers.
“We house 45,000 layers and at times we can harvest from 80 per cent of them, according to the age of the bird. If you are running 80 per cent, by the time the birds get older and production decrease you can go as far down as 50 or 60 per cent, which means that we have to keep recycling new birds and what’s not. But we try to maintain it, keeping production at 80 per cent.”
The 45,000 birds producing about 70 cases per day — 25,000 and 30,000 eggs.
“Locally we have been doing a lot of work over the years and we will continue to do work in terms of encouraging people and giving people a reason why they should use eggs. We get away from the myths and misconceptions and misunderstanding that eggs are filled with cholesterol.
“We have researched that and we are satisfied that that is not true and people are comfortable and seeing the truth especially with the whites for those who do exercises and so on. More people are using eggs and we want to continue to encourage that,” he stressed.
New President of the Association, Andrew Gill, said he too believed that local producers could step up to supply any increased demand from those who currently use egg substitutes, and he said it was not only tourism related businesses, but bakeries as well.
The local industry, he stated, produced about 4.8 million eggs per year, and while they were not certain of the volume of imported liquid or powdered egg substitute, he was “confident we have the capacity to produce all the eggs we need in Barbados”.
He told Barbados TODAY: “With local production, we have enough eggs to get us through Christmas under normal circumstances. The problem is that these hotels use substitutes because they don’t want to deal with the egg shells and also because it is cheaper to buy imported products, but we could handle the increase.
“The local producers could step up to handle the demand from hotels and what have you and the bakeries as well because some too do use the substitutes.”
Gill said it would take some kind of directive from high up to see this kind of growth in the industry.
“Government would have to come in and kind of ban the importation of these substitutes if the local industry is to take shape because currently there is nothing to stop the importing of substitutes,” he said.
Nevertheless, the president said he was pleased that local demand was keeping pace with local production, but there was always room for improvement.
“We are pretty happy with what is being produced. If we can get those who currently use the substitutes to come on board, it would help the industry tremendously. We have the big producers like Star Chick and Chickmont, but there are also smaller producers who can step up their production,” said Gill. [email protected]