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Pork Producers Urged to Upgrade Packaging

by 5m Editor
5 September 2011, at 9:11am

JAMAICA - Sing Chin, managing director of the Progressive Grocers of Jamaica consortium, said stores in the chain of 28 that earned the lowest margins were hit by two factors: high electricity bills and meat spoilage.

In turn, he said, the consortium's customers end up paying more, and meat producers earned less because of spoilage, some of it due to poorly prepared and ill-packaged meat.

Making a presentation during a pork buyer and producers meeting at the Jamaica Social Investment Fund (JSIF) in New Kingston last Tuesday, Chin, in response to a pig farmer's query as to why they could not earn more per pound given the prices that pork is sold for in the supermarkets and jerk centres, said the higher up the value chain, the greater the input costs and the higher the shelf price to end users.

"We are also facing rental of J$6 million to J$7 million each month, as well as light bills that range between J$1 million to $3 million per location," said the supermarket owner.

Mr Chin operates Super Valu, The Jamaica Gleaner reports.

Pork currently retails at an average of J$200 per pound; farmers earn about J$135 per pound at farm gate.

Mr Chin said the unreliability of supply, a "too-fat" product, and unsanitary presentation - including pig meat delivered unchilled in the back of cars and pickups - are some of the challenges encountered by the stores dealing with smaller meat producers.

He said small producers who wished to negotiate contracts with individual stores should look into providing meat that is properly chilled or frozen.

The meeting was arranged by the JSIF's Rural Economic Development Initiative project (REDI) as a networking session for pork producers and buyers.

REDI project manager, Stephannie Hutchinson-Ffrench, said at the event that the World Bank had provided funding of about $5 million per farming group to construct pig facilities that were modern, and would improve bio-security and traceability of pork meat.

Other projects to be supported include small-scale revenue-generating activities for which the maximum grant amount is US$50,000, as well as provision of critical small-scale public infrastructure, marketing and management, for which grants of up to US$200,000 are available.

The six-year REDI programme has also recruited consultants for value-chain analysis for the Jamaican pig-pork industry whose work includes a census of pig farmers, as well as forecasting the industry to facilitate long-term planning.

At last Tuesday's meeting, problems of diluted breeding stock, thin profit margins, non-existent abattoirs, animals which are too fat, and funding of genetically correct stock were explored.

Delroy Manya, public relations officer of the Jamaica Pig Farmers Association, said Jamaica needs centrally located abattoirs similar to Barbados, and that his association was pushing the agriculture ministry to adopt a pig passport, similar to the programme under consideration for beef cattle.

Ms Hutchinson-Ffrench said small- farm groups could carve out their own niche in the market despite the planned expansion of large producers such as Sweet River Abattoir in Westmoreland, which announced a pending US$1-million upgrade; and Caribbean Broilers group, which was also expanding at Newport Genetics.

Mr Chin said meat sellers should be cognisant of the special parts, such as cutlets, shoulders, and ribs in demand by wholesale buyers.

Pork imports, according to the latest Statin data, amounted to 2.5 million kilogrammes in 2009.

Jamaicans consume 6kg per person yearly, compared to 40 kilograms by Europeans and North Americans.

According to www.pigtrop.com, the information site dedicated to the pork industry in developing countries, 70 per cent of the pigs slaughtered in Jamaica goes into the fresh-meat market.

The remainder goes to processors/packers and into making value-added products "in sharp contrast to the scenario in the USA where fresh pork accounts for only 16 per cent of all pork consumed."

The site also notes that in the absence of adequate local supplies, local processors have had to turn to importing pork cuts, especially from Canada. Estimates are that some 60 per cent of pork legs, 79 per cent of bellies, and 70 per cent of the ribs used by local pork processors is imported.

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