Chicken shortage hits market
Retailers and shopkeepers across the island are reportedly rationing chicken due to a shortage of poultry meat in the market place.
Shannon West of Molynes Freshly Cut Meat and Grocery said he has no other choice except to limit the amount of chicken that he sells to any one customer.
"I usually have the ability to sell a bag or even two, but now I can't, so you can just imagine the restaurant owners who are depending on us for their livelihood, how they have been disrupted. I limit them to 10 pounds depending on how much I get," he said.
West said since the shortage of chicken hit, customers have been turning to other protein sources such as fish and turkey neck.
Small business owner Nickita Smith, who operates a community shop in Arnett Gardens, St Andrew, said she has been struggling to source chicken meat for about two weeks.
"As mi get it, it done. Mi usually buy from the wholesale dem a town or have a likkle man a deliver to me, but that kinda slow up. Mi still sell it for $230 a pound but all a di people dem normally want a specific part have to get everything. Right now, the way di ting set, all if a three leg dem a get in a two pound parcel, dem a take it. One time it wasn't like dat, dem used to 'cockatie' and a tell we whe dem want," she said.
The switch from consumption of protein sources such as beef and pork to chicken is said to be a major factor fuelling the shortage of poultry meat on the market.
Caribbean Broilers, one of the major producers of chicken meat in Jamaica, said the company is selling more chicken now than it was at the corresponding period last week.
"According to our numbers, we sold more chicken meat in August 2020 than we did in the same period last year. This is being done despite the fact that we don't have all legs of the economy running at full capacity, for example, the hotel and restaurant industries," Dave Fairman, president of the Best Dressed Chicken division, said. "There has also been a notable shift in the demand from other animal proteins. Turkey neck for example is now being sold within the same bracket as chicken meat."
The signal of a looming chicken shortage came several months ago after small poultry farmers complained that they were unable to source baby chicks for their small-scale ventures.
Fairman said that there has been a weekly increase of production of chicken in response to the additional demand being experienced.
He said that there would be even greater production numbers coming out of the facility within the next two weeks.
Colonel Jaimie Ogilvie, vice-president of the Hi-Pro Division, said that despite numbers demonstrating that Hi-Pro maintained the same level of chick supply to the market, as it did last year July and August, there has been a strong surge in demand well beyond the normal, since the arrival of COVID-19 in March.
"We have responded to this by ramping up production through the reopening of our second hatchery which will impact the market within approximately two weeks. In addition to this, we have been incrementally increasing the amount of chicks on the market and just last week we noted a fall-off in demand for the first time since July," Ogilvie said.