by Emmanuel Joseph
Some dairy farmers in Barbados are now cutting out the Pine Hill Dairy as the processor and retailer of their milk — and carrying out these functions themselves through a secondary plant.
Investigations by Barbados TODAY this afternoon revealed that three farmers were so far selling their milk commercially. One of the three, this newspaper has been informed, was retailing whole milk, which is unprocessed, while the other two were processing the product for sale on supermarket shelves.
George Jackman, a St. Philip farmer, is one of those having his milk processed by Simeon Foods Limited, a locally-owned company headed by former Pine Hill Dairy employee, Ken Mullin.
When contacted, Mullin informed this paper that he was currently processing milk for two farmers in the St. Philip and St. John areas. Jackman revealed that the brand which he currently produced was known as My Milk and the type was pasturised plain, mauby milk and flavoured.
“We are fighting for survival,” Jackman said. “When you (PHD) depress a man’s quota by 25 per cent, you are telling the man to get out or find an alternative means of doing business.”
He was referring to the dairy’s decision to cut farmers’ quotas by that amount. The dairy farmer noted that since 1991, the local consumption of milk has been dropping, adding that the PHD must take part of the blame.
He charged that the dairy installed a new multi-million plant without taking into account, the consumer.
“Consumers are not satisfied with the taste of the dairy’s milk,” Jackman declared.
Another brand of milk which is presently being processed outside of the PHD is called Green Meadows.
For some time now, dairy farmers have been complaining of major challenges with the level of their milk quotas to the PHD, and even more critically, the price being paid to them.
Director of the dairy, Richard Cozier, told Barbados TODAY that the decision by the farmers to bypass the company, was impacting on the revenue, even though sales were holding. Cozier also said this action by the farmers was something he would discourage.
However, he admitted that Barbados was a free market and he could not dictate what the farmer could do. He noted that if it worked for them, then kudos, but if not, then that’s another matter.
As far as the quality produced by the secondary processor, Cozier argued that it was a matter for the consumer to decide as well as the Ministries of Health and Agriculture.