Barbados Advocate Refuses To Publish Letter About… The Chicken Monopoly And High Food Costs

Newspapers Don’t Want To Upset Their Chicken Advertisers

You know how it is folks… When your newspaper needs the revenue from advertising chicken wing sales, you can’t always publish the articles you want to.

Which is why both the Nation News and the Barbados Advocate lie when they tell you they are looking after the interests of the ordinary Bajans.

The trouble is… those newspapers lost all sense of duty to the public and became a sham where only money counts.

So here is a letter – purportedly from Robert D. Lucas, Ph.D. and Food Bio-technologist. If he didn’t send it, I’m sure he’ll let us know, so meanwhile we’ll say it is from him.

We haven’t changed one word in the body, although we have broken the article into smaller paragraphs. We have also added titles in Bold Italics again for readability.

So let’s see what Dr. Lucas has to say about the chicken monopoly on this rock and what can be done to lower food costs…

The Editor
The Barbados Advocate Newspaper
Bridgetown , Barbados .

Dear Sir/Madam,

Recently, there have been calls by some persons, for the use of cassava and maize, in the production of local animal feeds as a measure in reducing costs. As the Minister of Agriculture rightly pointed out, the land acreage, as well as the ancillary requirements needed before the implementation of such activities, at this time, preclude their adoption. In any event, such a course would affect the acreage of land available, for the production of non-sugar crops for local consumption. I will now outline measures which can be adopted immediately, to reduce the cost to the consumers and farmers.

Water Added To Poultry To Increase Weight & Profits

The addition of water to locally produced poultry should be banned. I have in the past, written extensively on this topic in letters to your newspaper and have estimated that the addition of water at the ten-percent level to poultry, cost the consumers of this country, over one and a half million dollars per year. There are efforts a foot locally, to try to achieve a twenty-percent added level of water. The importation of chicken wings should be allowed and import duties on them reduced

The local feed company should be investigated, to ascertain whether or not its pricing policies are fair. As I have said on numerous occasions in your paper, the local poultry industry is a cartel and can charge the consumer what it feels like. The feed plant and the major slaughtering and rearing facilities are owned by a few persons.

Local Feed Company Partially Owned By A Company Guilty Of Price-Fixing

Additionally, the local feed plant apart from the local shareholders, is partly owned by Archer Daniels Midland (ADM) company of the USA . In 1996, ADM, was fined U.S. 100 million dollars for price-fixing the cost of the amino acid lysine on the international market. It also pleaded guilty to conspiring with Ajinimoto of Japan and the Sewon Corporation of South Korea to eliminate competition ( US . Department of Justice, Financial Times 15/10/96, p1 and ibid 17/9/98). It took the action of a whistle blower, for this particular activity on ADM’s part to be discovered by the authorities

ADM was also found guilty of fixing the price of High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) in June 2004( New York Times, Business Section). In 2001, ADM was fined ₤10.13 million by the European Commission for conspiring with five other producers to fix the price of sodium gluconate, a food additive. On the 26th.September 2006, the European Court of First Instance, found ADM guilty of being part of a price-fixing cartel and fined the company ₤39.6 million for fixing the price of citric acid. ADM has also been investigated in Brazil and Mexico for price-fixing.

Competition Needed In Chicken Feed

It is suggested that, the importation of grain from Brazil be explored. There is a need for either another feed company locally or the importation of the raw material from other sources than the USA . According to one of the British Broadcasting Corporation’s (BBC) ‘Business Daily’ programs of 2007, land is cheaper in Brazil and production costs are a lot less than in the USA. Indeed, some American farmers were moving to Brazil and farming soy and maize. It is claimed that, eventually, the price of oil will reached US$ 200 per barrel. What will the local poultry industry do then? Will the consumer be able to buy poultry? Will Government keep on with the imposition of the high common external tariff to protect an industry that really needs some competition ?

Yeast As Chicken Feed – A Great Idea!

I will now revisit the use of yeast (I have written on this before in your paper) as a viable source of protein for use in animal rations.

In a letter to the Advocate dated 7th.June 1998 I said the following: “The crux of the problem with the local poultry and livestock industries is the lack of a cheap locally produced feed. Until this matter is addressed, the local producers will always be at a comparative disadvantage.”

The most expensive input into a feed is the protein fraction. Energy can easily be provided by the use of carbohydrates such as cassava, breadfruit, potatoes and other starch and cellulose-based foods. Yeast (single cell protein) is on a dry weight basis high in proteins (about 40%). Yeast can be cultivated on a number of substrates. The substrates can be agriculture waste materials, including rinse water from fruits and vegetables, as well as paper and other cellulosic materials. Additionally, yeasts are obtained as a by-product of the fermentation of molasses in the manufacture of rum and alcohol.

The point I am making here, is that, there is no need to divert food intended for humans into the production of yeast.

I will now outline a sustainable method of producing single cell protein. Firstly, I will deal with the production of yeast as a by-product of the rum industry. Once the molasses has been diluted to the required level, ammonia sulfate added to the fermentation tank and sulfur dioxide used to suppress the level of contaminating microorganisms in the molasses substrate, the medium is then seeded with a pure-culture strain of the appropriate yeast. If the aim of the process is the production of high biomass yields, it is necessary to aerate the substrate, since aerobic conditions favors biomass production.

If production of alcohol (fermentation) is desired, then one has to use anaerobic conditions in the bio-fermentor and biomass production is lower. An impeller has to be used, ensuring uniform distribution of yeast in the medium in both instances. During growth of the yeast cells, heat is given off. The fermentation tank can be cooled down by means of water circulating in coils around the tank. Solar energy is used to cool the water in the coils and also power the impeller as well as a high-speed separator, which separates the yeast cells from the medium. Solar energy is also used to dry the yeast. A by-product of the fermentation of molasses is alcohol which is toxic to yeast cells once a threshold level is reached. There is, therefore, considerable free molasses left behind. The molasses-alcohol mixture is shunted to the fractional distillation column and alcohol and other low boiling point impurities distilled off.

The free molasses-water mix can be passed through a molecular sieve, to remove any chemical impurities as a result of the fermentation process ( acetone, lactic acid etc which may affect the growth of the yeast cells). In this case, the water in the coils used for cooling, can be used to pre-heat the hydraulic fluid of a reciprocating piston (attached to the molecular sieve) which supplies the pressure to drive the free molasses molecules through the membrane’s pores, before reentering the fermentation chamber.

A byproduct of the fermentation process is carbon dioxide. Carbon dioxide can be fixed using appropriate bacteria into five and six-carbon atoms (simple sugars) compounds, which can be recycled into the fermentation chamber. In other words, we are dealing with a closed system which is carbon dioxide neutral and there is no adverse effect on the environment. If cellulosic material (fiber cane) is used as the initial substrate, the enzyme cellulase is used to break down the cellulose into simple sugars, before being shunted into the fermentation chamber.

This is the basic two-step procedure that I have written about in your newspaper. A more elegant and cheaper method in the long run is the one-step method, which I have been proposing for more than twenty years and the Americans are at present working on. In this method, the gene for cellulase activity is spliced into bacteria or yeast, so that one organism is responsible for both the break down of cellulose into simple sugars and the conversion of these sugars into either yeast biomass or alcohol. Sixteen thousand acres of land are not required for the processes outlined above.

Sincerely

Robert D. Lucas, Ph.D.
Food biotechnologist.
Bridgetown, Barbados

19 Comments

Filed under Barbados, Business, Environment

19 responses to “Barbados Advocate Refuses To Publish Letter About… The Chicken Monopoly And High Food Costs

  1. Chicken Little

    “As I have said on numerous occasions in your paper, the local poultry industry is a cartel and can charge the consumer what it feels like.”

    Clarification needed here: This does not apply to the retail price of chicken (rearing) as this is controlled by the government. Over the last 5 years; the costs of raw materials in chicken production (salaries, feed, gas, bedding, water, electricity, cold storage, land, equipment, equipment maintenance, etc.) has increased significantly yet the government controlled price of chicken has held relatively constant. Now the price of corn has gone through the roof. Therefore, I reject the argument that the local price of chicken is due to a market monopolization.

    One does not need to be an economist to figure out that: Steady revenues and significantly increased expenses = little/no profit.

    “The importation of chicken wings should be allowed and import duties on them reduced.”

    From the supply-demand argument (demand exceeds supply) I agree that importation of chicken wings is a necessary evil however here are some interesting counterpoints.

    1. Chickens reared in Barbados are pretty much organic and low fat content. The retail price of a whole chicken in Barbados is Bds$8.70 per kilo (Bds$3.95 per lb). The price of normal hormone laced chicken in the U.S. is Bds$10.22 per kilo (Bds$4.60 per lb). There a 4lb chicken in the U.S. cost Bds$18.40 vs $15.80 in Barbados.

    The price of an “organic” chicken in the U.S. is Bds$26.40 per kilo ($12 per lb)!!!!! A 4lb chicken costs Bds$48.

    2. Chicken is the cheapest meat in Barbados. Check out the prices of lamb, beef, pork and dolphin (per lb or kilo).

    3. The quality of chicken in Barbados is much higher than what is in the stores in the U.S.!

    4. Some of the imported chicken wings I see coming into Barbados is low quality compared to what is produced locally! Also the chicken wing is part of the chicken that has the lowest nutritional value!

    5. The quality of the chicken produced locally can be controlled by the Ministry of Agriculture; depending on the source of the imported wings, who can guarantee its quality and safety?

    6. The largest of the local producers by some standards is still a “small” operation that would not be able to compete with some industry giants such as Tyson and co. Without some protection from the government, local industry would be decimated and many jobs lost.

  2. Hants

    Chicken Little says.

    . “Chickens reared in Barbados are pretty much organic and low fat content”.

    Since when?

    I used to grow 5000 broilers per cycle and the feed, antibiotics and pox vaccine could not possibly be considered organic.

    I did not know that the methodology for growing chicken in Barbados had changed.

  3. GreenBB

    …here are some interesting counterpoints.

    1. Chickens reared in Barbados are pretty much organic and low fat content. The retail price of a whole chicken in Barbados is Bds$8.70 per kilo (Bds$3.95 per lb). The price of normal hormone laced chicken in the U.S. is Bds$10.22 per kilo (Bds$4.60 per lb). There a 4lb chicken in the U.S. cost Bds$18.40 vs $15.80 in Barbados.

    The price of an “organic” chicken in the U.S. is Bds$26.40 per kilo ($12 per lb)!!!!! A 4lb chicken costs Bds$48.
    Chicken Little’s math is spot on. If anyone in Barbados had to eat Perdue or Tyson they would not be feeling very well. Chicken (with the exception of organic) in the US is spongy. rubbery, dry and generally tasteless. No matter what you do to it, it comes out like shoe leather. We are quite lucky here in BB to have the quality of chicken that we do and for the price as well.

    _________________________________________________

  4. Chicken Little

    “I used to grow 5000 broilers per cycle and the feed, antibiotics and pox vaccine could not possibly be considered organic.

    I did not know that the methodology for growing chicken in Barbados had changed.”

    Thats why I used the term “pretty much” organic and not certified organic. Even produce marketed as organic has pesticide content. A study in 2002 found organic foods has 1/3 pesticide residue of conventially grown produce.

    However, I stand corrected; I should have been more specific. We do not use growth hormones to accelerate the batch turnaround time. Antibiotics are only used when illness strikes a batch and yes vaccines are used to innoculate against pox.

    When you buy a whole chicken in the U.S. you would be disgusted at the amount of fat on the bird. Once I estimated that 1/4 of the weight on the chicken I bought was fat!

  5. Hants

    GreenBB where do you buy chicken in the USA ?

    Prehaps you bought stewing hens.

  6. Knight of the Long Knives

    I happen to know you can buy a case of 16 3 pound whole chickens from Tyson Foods for slightly less than U.S $50. Thats about Barbados $6.25 for a chicken or $2 per pound.. Where did you get those numbers

  7. GreenBB

    Oh no Hants, boneless/skinless chicken breast in NYC. So gross, are you familiar with Perdue and Tyson?

  8. Chicken Little

    “I happen to know you can buy a case of 16 3 pound whole chickens from Tyson Foods for slightly less than U.S $50. Thats about Barbados $6.25 for a chicken or $2 per pound.. Where did you get those numbers.”

    You are talking wholesale price. I’m talking retail. Where I get my numbers from? I am currently living in the U.S. On my way home I will pick up a whole chicken and let you know what I paid for it.

    Of course if buy a case of chicken you will get a lower unit price.

  9. GreenBB

    Chicken Little: are you going to eat it?

  10. The cheapest meat in Barbados is Turpit(pot fish) at BDS$2 per pound. I buy it every week. Try turpit and yam…better than chicken any day.

  11. Knight of the Long Knives

    Still can’t see it being marked up from $8 to $18 by any stretch of the imagination. Maybe in Barbados from SBI but not in the U.S. I have a friend who imports thing for his candy store and brought in cases of Reese peanut butter cups (a personal favorite of mine) from the U.S paid duty and sold them for $.50 while Super Center sells the same thing for $2 plus (can’t remember the exact number) and he aint gonna sell em at a loss. Do the math.

  12. Pat

    I bought Jamaican ginger tea in Barbados for 5.99 a box (sweetened). I saved the box front and asked my grocer to bring it in. I bought it today for $2.49 a box and it came farther and most likely by air as I only gave him the box cover two weeks ago. Of course, his distributor could have had it in stock, but the price is amazing up here.

  13. Price gouging is what happens when competition is removed : SBI (wholly owned by BS&T) is an amalgamation of Smithfield Foods; M.E.R. Bourne and Interage. BS& T set up a buying company in Miami from which SBI buys at a mark-up….there is a tiered mark-up/pricing system at SBI depending on whether you are a mini-mart; service station; restaurant; supermarket; etc. I also recall Sir David Seale assisting a local businessman to develop a cheaper evaporated milk which Super Centre refused to buy citing protection for Pine Hill Dairy but SBI was importing Carnation milk from Trinidad..but the problem with small distributors and farmers like the one in St.Lucy is that they do not hold frequent dinners and cocktail parties with our hand-to-mouth politicians present…that is what the white corporate elite have perfected…THIS PRESENT GOVERNMENT WILL NEVER BREAK UP ANY MONOPOLIES….check which law firm represents whom…or better yet, pose the question to David Thompson at the next press conference

  14. Yes chicken in Barbados is extremely expensive and it would make you wanna run and leave the place. Travel to the rest of the caribbean islands and one would agree that in b/dos it’s the most expensive and one should further ask…………………………WHY?

  15. the goverment of barbados rule on greed there do not care about the people as long as there bank account get fat and the people of barbados suffer when people are trying to drink champaine with beer money there is a problem what we kneed to do is form a new political party and said to hell with the corrupt blp and dlp and vote for the people labour party put the goverment back in the hand of the people

  16. as we see there are so maney problems faceing the people of barbados unemployment- helth care-education-cost of living -inflation and the list goes own the dlp or blp cant solved these problem but there are asking for your vote and we are going to give them our vote and then we are going to cry but we are the problem we cause our own distruction dont vote dlp or blp voters of barbados we kneed new leadership people labour party comming soon

  17. as the dlp re shaful their cabbinet the blp fighting amoung each other where is the unity we stop growing our own food and turn to inport witch cost4 times more in spending that is money that could be going toward helth care we are selling land at a record rate but the econimy do not benifet polition pocketing the money we must call for a bycott of our goverment

  18. the new political party of barbados plp is going to start lounching its canpaine real soon and i will anounce my canidancy for prime minister of barbados and the plp party will ask mia mottly to be my running mate to lead barbados out of this econimic recession that we are facing

  19. to mia comming from prince george virgina if god willing we set things in the works for the plp to be by your side the most dis harting thing to read about the back stabbing that the blp leaders has done owen arther will not be the next primeminister the road goes through the people labour party and that u can take to the bank mia i hope you can read this