The Grenada Association of Poultry Producers (GAPP) has accused some local supermarkets of engaging in activities aimed at defeating the recent price hike announced for local chicken.
According to association President, Jason Phillip, the new price hikes have seemingly been welcomed in general by the buying public but it is meeting with some resistance from the operators of mainly supermarkets.
“I will be very honest with you, I have had very little negative feedback from the general public”, Phillip told THE NEW TODAY in an exclusive interview about the public response to the price increases.
Last month, GAPP announced that the price of whole chicken will move from EC$5.50 per lb. to EC$6.75 per lb. and a tray of 30 eggs will now be sold at EC$23.00 up from the previous price of EC$20.00 per tray.
The association said it was forced to increase the price due to a decision taken by Caribbean Agro to institute increases on the cost of Poultry Feed with a 6% hike, Hog Feed (12%) and all other feed going up by 6%.
Phillip said the general public have accepted the fact that the farmers need to increase the price for their product and are prepared to pay the new price but the supermarkets are creating a problem for GAPP.
He stated that an increasing number of persons have indicated that they do understand and empathise with farmers for raising the prices given the fact that the hike was totally outside their control in light of additional costs to them on animal feed from Caribbean Agro, as well as on gasoline at the pump, and the recent increase in the cost of purchasing chicks for their farms.
“With those things going up it is natural for those persons to expect that changes (in prices for chicken) would occur,” he remarked.
However, the GAPP boss said the association is very concerned about the attitude being displayed by some of the retailers who are buying directly from the poultry farmers to sell to the buying public.
Phillip charged that these wholesale purchasers are ignoring the new prices increase and trying to pressure farmers to sell to them at the old price.
“Reports have been coming back from our farmers that some of the retailers have not been honouring the fact that farmers’ costs are going up and still purchasing at the very low prices that they had before,” he said.
“We have a current situation where we are asking for the retailing public to please do not ambush our farmers in this way because whenever other commodities are imported from outside – whenever those prices are adjusted which is happening right now, they go right ahead and adjust the prices on their shelves without any question or without any problem,” he added.
Without calling names, Phillip accused some of the supermarkets of wanting to “pick and choose which commodity that you are going to do that action for” but when it comes to local farmers they are getting a different treatment even if it is known that “we are already operating at such tight margins”.
He said that several supermarkets “have not yet adjusted the prices that they are paying farmers for the produce even though there has been an increase in the production cost to the farmers” and have unfortunately chosen “at this point to still maintain payment in the values pre the increase in prices”.
According to Phillip, this attitude amounts to what he called “strong arming the farmers” because his members are forced to continue adsorbing “the increased cost of production without being compensated for it”.
“However, when you go to some of the shelves (in the supermarkets) and you look at the margins that the retailers make from the same product that they are selling, you know basically that it is not sustainable for farmers.
“So we are asking for the retailers – persons who purchase wholesale from our farmers and will retail to the General Public to please understand that you are putting our farmers out of business when you choose not to increase the cost to which you pay them for the product. This particular circumstance is going to drive farmers out of business”.
Phillip said that the GAPP is primarily interested in seeing “sustainable production for the future” so that local farmers can continue to operate and remain competitive in the industry.