Barbados yogurt production ends – exposing more hollow government rhetoric

“Whenever practical, buy local.”

by Adrian Loveridge, small hotel owner

by Adrian Loveridge, small hotel owner

When we moved to Barbados almost 25 years ago and  purchased what was a semi-derelict Arawak Inn and beginning our journey in hotel operation, as non-nationals, not surprisingly, only a handful of suppliers would extend us credit. We have remained fiercely loyal and faithful to that small group.

So when PineHill made its entirely unilateral decision to stop producing yogurts it went entirely in the face of a policy we implemented when Peach and Quiet opened: “Whenever practical, buy local.”

“It is almost incomprehensible that this decision by PineHill was made at a time when our struggling dairy industry is trying to survive in the wake of a massive unsold milk glut.”

One or two people have indicated that PineHill did in fact issue a public notice in the media to the effect that they would no longer be manufacturing yogurts. But wouldn’t you, as a matter of course, write to customers that have traded with you for two decades?

After all, we have never been to busy to write and sign, literally hundreds of cheques to them over that period. It almost reeks of arrogance and indifference on their part.

So what do the 160 or so registered hotels, hundreds of villas, apartments and condominiums do now?

In our own case we have been forced to purchase imported yogurts from a distributor, who bring in the French brand, Yoplait. While the individual containers do not show a country of origin, the packaging does and indicates that they are made at their US subsidiary in Minneapolis. So at a critical time, when we are trying to retain every cent of foreign earnings, here we are importing an item that has a long history of local production, that is being trucked and shipped by refrigerated transport over a distance of at least 6,000 miles.

Just think about the carbon footprint for a minute.

Surely the company has to publicly explain why they have chosen this time to cease production and why it is no longer viable? With over 500,000 long stay visitors annually plus sales to locals, cruise ship companies and inflight caterers, what is the problem?

Another point that should be raised, are the recognised health benefits associated with yogurts and would it not be in the national interest to encourage more consumption. Foreign alternatives almost certainly will be more expensive and in these challenging times that alone will stifle demand.

I was also surprised that yogurt attracted 17.5 per cent VAT, as it surely could not be considered a luxury food item, but more a weapon against obesity and digestive disorders. Back on 13th January 2011 under a large attention grabbing Nation News banner headline ‘Bigger Basket’, the then Minister of Trade stated that more VAT exempt items would be added to the ‘basket’. Once again, this appears to be only just more rhetoric.

I really hope that PineHill will re-consider their decision or alternatively take steps to relinquish their near monopoly of milk processing, by giving another manufacturer a chance in Barbados.

The Line in the Sand…

With rights there are responsibilities and while yogurt may seem to some as an insignificant part of the bigger picture, but to me, it’s the line in the sand.

After yogurt, what comes next?

Will PineHill then transfer milk production to Trinidad, because due to energy costs, its cheaper to boil the liquid there?

11 Comments

Filed under Agriculture, Barbados, Economy

11 responses to “Barbados yogurt production ends – exposing more hollow government rhetoric

  1. 79

    Dear Mr. Loveridge, very few Bajans would appreciate what you are doing for our Country by voicing your oppinions, particularly on this site as most Barbadians rather hide behind the truth. I came to Barbdaos at the age of four years old in 1946. I am a Bajan ! and unlike most true Bajans I am not willing to hide behind any barriers.
    I cannot believe that we could stop making yogurt when there is a surplus of milk, I loved the Pine Hill Yogurt more so than the imported stuff, I BUY BAJAN WHEN EVER POSSIBLE, (I know Pine Hill is not Bajan) now that Trinidad is taking over this Country, and it started by selling off our NATIONAL BANK, “our blood line”, I can see they are doing their best to bring this Country down to their level.
    Business’s closed, Plantations gone to ruins with no hope of recovering. Hotel closures, amalgamation of the Big Stores in Bridgetown, all done by the Trini’s.
    I am now waiting to see what the Union is going to do when they meet with Neal and Massey, I’ll bet it will be nothing like what LIME went through.
    I’ll bet Neal and Massey come out smiling.
    We can no longer use our ” 100% Bajan Logo ”
    Wake up Barbados, it is already too late to recover.

  2. glynnUK

    As a regular long stay visitor from UK to Barbados, one of the things we really look forward to is the local food; the Pine Hill Yogurt being a particular favourite. What a shame they have ceased production and we will have to eat an unpalatable and expensive import from now on. A sign of the times??

  3. What Next?

    The only reason I go into Emerald City or Pricemart is to get my Pine Hill yogurt. Often it is not on the shelf so I have to keep checking back. When it is in stock, I buy six or more and freeze the containers. I refuse to buy the sweetened foreign yogurts. The retail grocery stores are trying to push the local brands off the shelf and sell more expensive imports. Where can I buy fresh milk? I will make my own yogurt from now on.

  4. Well Well

    The local government (the two parties) continue to do everything in their power to sabotage local manufacturing, any local business trying to survive is completely wiped out, this has been going on for decades. Trinidad cannot be blamed for this, they are just using the opportunities and support handed to them by these two parties. DidThompson not tell Ames he will give him all the support he needs. Politicians don’t ever utter those words to local black businesses, it’s very shameful but true.

  5. Green Monkey

    If the yogurt now on the store shelves is from the US of A, it is quite possible that it is contaminated with the Monsanto originated, genetically modified Bovine Growth Hormone that has been linked to cancer and was forbidden to be introduced into the Canadian and EU milk supply and to my knowledge has not been used in Barbados. A couple of the Canadian scientists working for Health Canada at the time charge that they were pressured by politicians and subjected to offers of bribes by Monsanto to allow the stuff into Canada and disregard their concerns of the adverse health impacts that BGH could have on the Canadian population.

    See below how Monsanto pressured Fox News into killing a story reporting on the animal and human health hazards scientists had linked to Monsanto’s Bovine Growth Hormone (developed to increase milk production in dairy cattle in the USA).

    Episode 17 from the documentary “The Corporation”:

    17. Journalists Jane Akre and Steve Wilson were fired by the Fox News television station they work for after refusing to change their investigative report on Posilac, a Bovine Growth Hormone (BGH) made by Monsanto. Their research documents potential health and safety problems of drinking milk treated with the synthetic hormone, but threatened with legal action from Monsanto, Fox wants the negative effects played down. The court eventually throws out Akre’s whistle blower lawsuit after deciding that the media is allowed to lie.

  6. Well Well

    American yogart has been in Bim for years before Pine Hill started making the product. Just follow the money and one will see why.

  7. Wily Coyote

    Da ship is sinking, abandon Barbados, it’s only a short swim to St. Lucia where you can get the best yogurt in the world, French made from proper cows.

  8. 79

    I remember when Trinidad was buying from us, then the Governments (B&D) killed the Manufacturing Industries in this Country so we can support the Trini’s, “Question”, when these Trini Companies make nice profits with their Barbados Companies, where do the profits go ? ( is it this that is erroding our foriegn exchange ?) I am sure it ain’t staying in Barbados. “Wake up Barbados.”
    Is the Cement Plant in Barbados a viable Company ??????????

  9. Mark Fenty

    It appears like some people in Barbados and the united States for that matter, are finding difficult to come to terms with the shifting economic reality of our times. Some have the audacious impudicity to lay blame on Tom, Dick, and Harry, for conditions that can only be attributed to their lack of foresightedness. I guess it is a natural human tendency to blame everyone but ourselves. But, it’s time that we take responsibility for our own actions. We need to grow a pair of balls and face the reality of our shortcoming. Stop the blame game, and search for the appropriate solutions to address the existing problems.

    Moreover, when I was a young lad growing up in the Ambien of the Barbadian ethos. I always felt a sense of pride to be called Barbadian. I guess it meant something in those days, and that can only be attributed to the kind of leaders who once putted the people affairs ahead of the personal affairs. But, in our modern day and time it’s quite the contrary I’ll say. Because we seem have a new breed of leader, who main objective it is to full his pockets and that of his friends and family. Never mind the electorate that has put him there to effectuate real change in the existing conditions, in the first place. There are only useful around election time, to cast the vote in his favor. What a sad states of affairs, in the political affairs in Barbados.

    You know, it seems like my worse fairs has been realized. I dreamt of the day when Barbados would experience the very economic conditions, as like of St. Lucia, St Vincent of old. I have no doubt that a lot of Barbadians out agree would with me on this one. In any event, I’m well aware of the fact that the only constant in our human existence is death, but many of us are reluctant to face this ever present reality. In hindsight, I’ve realized that I had been fed a fault sense of security, because I trusted that our leaders would always do what is in the best interest of the people. I’ve now come to terms with the fact, that this no such thing as perfection within the medium of human government. And that we must always take into consideration our human faults and failings, when we decide to condemn our leaders for their shortcomings .

  10. BB

    it is quite simple, I would love to buy fresh Bajan cow’s milk, but there is none in supermarkets! Does Pinehill think that Tetrapak milk is fresh? It tastes awful! Well, they are getting the answer from consumers. Make real fresh milk available in bottles or 1/2 gallons and sales will increase sharply!

  11. BB

    forgot one thing: why is Pinehill milk produced in Barbados cheaper in Trinidad than in Barbados?