With the demand for fruits and vegetables at an all-time high, a supermarket owner has charged that farmers have raised prices.
Managing director of A1 Supermarkets Andrew Bynoe today revealed that some farmers who supply his businesses with produce have blamed the ongoing drought for the hike.
And those costs will be passed on to consumers, the prominent grocer said in a Barbados TODAY interview.
He said he had noticed the price changes within the last week.
Bynoe said: “Some of the farmers have carried up their prices, but they are explaining that it is a drought and they have to use more water so that is the reason why the prices have gone up.
“The prices have gone up from certain farmers so that means it has to be passed on to consumers. We will have no choice.”
But he declined to comment on whether he believed those farmers had increased prices because of the high demand for produce in light of the current COVID-19 pandemic.
General manager of Massy Stores Randall Banfield told Barbados TODAY he could not comment as he was unaware of the development and would first have to speak to his produce managers. Calls to the management of Popular Discounts were not returned.
But while chief executive officer of the Barbados Agricultural Society (BAS) James Paul said he was not aware of any price hikes, he did acknowledge the impact of the drought.
He said some farmers in the Spring Hall Land Lease Project in St Lucy were complaining of scarce water supplies.
Paul said: “I do not know. Sometimes these supermarkets are not even buying from the farmers themselves because in some instances they are using a middle man. But I guess that if there is any shortage of a particular commodity there will be speculation.
“I would not say that I doubt what he [Bynoe] is saying, but it just means really that we need to see more production of the commodity.
“We’re trying to encourage farmers to put more crops in the ground but we have a double challenge in that while we want to do that, in some areas drought is an issue. In Spring Hall all of the farmers are not adequately served by the irrigation system.
“So this is happening at a time when the island itself has environmental challenges and it might be a case in one or two crops if there are shortages there might be an increase in prices, but I don’t know if it’s across the board.”
But Paul also said supermarkets might also be asked to pay more if farmers are selling their produce quickly.
He said due to the current restrictions, consumers were preferring to buy directly from the farmers instead of stores.
He added: “If you are getting rid of what you are producing without actually going to the supermarkets it means then to attract the commodity they [supermarkets] might have to pay a better price to get the farmers to bring it there.
“I think what is happening now is that people are actually going onto farms in some cases, especially the hawkers, so farmers have no difficulty in getting rid of their produce right now and that might account for one of the reasons why supermarkets are facing that challenge right now.”