TRINIDAD & TOBAGO - Imports of poultry meat, particularly leg quarters, may spell the end for traditional pluck shops.
President of the Central Pluck Shop Association, Rasheed Karim – a second generation poultry farmer himself – fears that the importation of chicken meat, particularly leg quarters, into Trinidad and Tobago, may eventually obliterate the pluck shop industry, reports Trinidad Express.
"I believe that in a little while, maybe two to three years the pluck shop industry might be dead. Very soon Trinidad will end up like Tobago. At one time Tobago had about ten or 12 pluck shops, but with the importation of chicken there are no more depots in Tobago," said Mr Karim during a phone interview with the newspaper last week.
Mr Karim's concerns may be understandable, since the poultry industry has made a significant contribution to the livelihood of low income communities.
Data compiled by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) shows that imported chicken from the United States to Trinidad and Tobago has increased from 1.523 tonnes in 2004 to more than 14.142 tonnes in 2008.
Statistics show that local consumers love chicken meat, after all, figures reveal that 85 per cent of all meats consumed is chicken, the share of poultry farming in the total gross value of agricultural output is largest in Trinidad & Tobago at 60 per cent and the per capita consumption of broiler meat is 36 to 38 kilogrammes per person per year.
Chicken prices at local depots have flown high and low over the past 12 months.
Pluck shops have retailed chicken as high as $7 per pound but within recent months, they have had to drop their prices to around $5 per pound to keep up with the imported chicken parts.
The president of the Poultry Association of Trinidad and Tobago, Robin Phillips, says the preference by US consumers for breast and wing products has created a large stock of residual by-product leg quarters (drum sticks and thighs), which are exported and sold at heavily discounted or 'fire-sale' prices and this, in turn has caused economic injury to the local poultry industry.
Executive director of the Caribbean Poultry Association, Dr Desmond Ali, agrees.
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