A ban on the importation of corned beef from Brazil appears to have had very little impact, not because it was being ignored but because Barbadians have not been queuing up in their numbers to purchase the product in the first place, retailers have revealed.
Several supermarket managers said they had been noticing a decline in interest in corned beef outside of the hurricane season, as consumers gravitated instead towards canned fish.
“Barbadians have moved away from corned beef and biscuit; [they] don’t really eat corned beef,” Store Manager at Chanelle Supermarket in Collymore Rock, St Michael Tony Catlyn told Barbados TODAY.
The Barbados Government Information Service (BGIS) Tuesday evening quoted Senior Veterinary Officer Dr Mark Trotman as saying concerns about the possibility of adulterated corned beef from Brazil entering Barbados had led to a temporary ban.
Retailers were advised to withdraw all Brazilian meat products from their shelves, and consumers were warned not to purchase corned beef or other canned meats manufactured in Brazil until the completion of investigations to determine whether the contaminated product had entered the island.
The corned beef shelves at Chanelle Supermarket were bare when Barbados TODAY visited Friday, with nothing but empty spaces in that area of the dry goods aisle.
Catlyn said consumers hardly noticed the ban, explaining that the interest was such that not even a sale would have made a difference outside the hurricane season when Barbadians stock up on dry foods.
The store manager added that had the ban been on tuna or sardines, the situation would have been different.
It was a sentiment shared by Cheryl Howard, the store manager at the Rock Dundo, St Michael branch of Savings Plus, which has also witnessed a decline in corned beef sales.
“I find that if it was tuna it would have been something different, but because it is corned beef, people aren’t really bothered,” Howard said.
However, Howard told Barbados TODAY there was one exception – the elderly were demanding a return of corned beef to the shelves.
“Basically, the old people say they have been eating corned beef for years. It is mainly the older generation who is hooked on corned beef,” she said.
At Massy Stores Supercentre in Warrens, St Michael, the story was the same, with Susie Alleyne, the floor manager, explaining that interest in the cured beef brisket appears to rise only during the hurricane season.
“You will find a spike in sales around the hurricane season where people will tend to stock up on canned stuff but . . . it is not one of those products where [customers say], ‘OK, I need to have it,’” she said.
Popular Supermarket, Savings Plus and Massy Stores had restocked their shelves with alternative items such as tuna, mackerel or sardines when Barbados TODAY visited.
Several Caribbean countries have banned Brazilian corned beef since the authorities there announced that major meat processors had been “selling rotten beef and poultry”.
Brazilian police last week named the food conglomerate BRF – the world’s largest meat producer – and JBS – the world’s largest food processing company by sales and the biggest poultry exporter – along with smaller companies in a two-year corruption probe.
According to Reuters news agency the police alleged that the companies had paid inspectors and politicians to overlook the processing of rotten meat and exports with fraudulent documentation and even traces of salmonella.