The top brass of the Barbados Agricultural Society (BAS) is assuring Barbadians they will have enough pork this Christmas.
In an interview with Barbados TODAY, president Henderson Williams and chief executive officer James Paul said there would be no shortages of either pork or pork products even though statistics point to a decline in pigs slaughtered at the island’s main processing facility, HIPAC Ltd in recent months.
Williams, who is also the head of the Barbados Pig Farmers’ Association, said that there was nothing unusual about the drop in numbers. He explained that coming out of the heightened periods of the COVID-19 pandemic, some farmers were exercising caution while others were being strategic, allowing their pigs to gain more weight so they can reap more sweets for the holiday period.
“I don’t believe that we’re going to have a shortage of pork for Christmas. Although we recognise that there is a slight decline in the number of slaughters for the last couple of months, August was pretty much on par. But we had a difference of about 300 being processed at the main processing facility. That’s not to say that there hasn’t been processing done at other facilities; as you know, there are some smaller facilities that do slaughtering as well,” Williams said.
In September 2021, 1 887 pigs were slaughtered while 1 534 pigs were processed in the same month this year. In August 2021, 1 758 pigs were slaughtered while that number in August 2022 was 1 706.
Tabulations for the month of November have not yet been completed; however, Williams believes the numbers will be favourable.
“In relation to demand, we recognise that there has been maybe a little uptick in relation to events and that, I believe, is something that people may have been plotting for as well.
“But what happens sometimes is that people wait for Christmas and they will tend to hold back and get their weights up. So, from our end, in relation to the supply of the main processor for ham products, we haven’t seen a drop off in the amount of pigs that we would supply on a monthly basis and, certainly, we believe that would continue into December,” Williams said.
Some small farmers had reported to Barbados TODAY that butchers and retail outlets were having challenges sourcing pork, indicating that their supplies were getting low.
However, Williams said there were increased activities this month and farmers were still making preparations for the holiday season.
“There is still a generous amount of pork on the market. Most [farmers] will definitely ensure that they have stock for Christmas, which is the most demanding period of the year,” the BAS president assured.
He said that after November’s numbers were tabulated, it would give the association an idea of what December’s figures would look like.
Williams added that although the Government was currently subsidising feed prices, farmers were still having challenges running their operations efficiently because of significantly increasing input costs.
However, he promised the farming community would not drop out of the compact arrangement with the Government as it was committed to ensuring consumers could have proper access to fresh and nutritious food.
Meanwhile, Paul said while farmers were making just enough to keep their head above water he was more than pleased that the demand for pork was on the rise.
“Farmers are making more sales and if they are making more money it means they are doing better economically. A challenge has been high costs, so because of that they need to do more to cover fixed costs that have to be covered. The [profit] margins have been reduced so if you are not doing greater volume it would put you in problems.
“You have to treat it as it is the way it is and hopefully people will continue to buy more local proper pork,” he said.