As we have reported, the strike has implications with goods coming into and going out of Belize for the Christmas season. Caught in all this, is the importation of turkey which as you know Belizeans will want on the dinner table for the holidays. On Monday a cargo vessel, the Caribe Navigator, sailed away with a shipment because striking stevedores would not unload. To complicate matters, local farmers cut down production earlier this year due to the avian flu.  Quality Poultry Products, which is the main distributor of turkey locally, explains developments in the importation of the bird.

Raymond Barkman

On the Phone: Raymond Barkman, General Manager, Quality Poultry Products

“We have been self-sufficient with turkey and we had a good turkey going here, but the influenza in this year January, it was a big loss for a lot of farmers because it affected their birds. Now, the turkey farmer has even a bigger investment that anyone else because he gets to grow the turkey from small to thirty pounds. So he has a significant amount of money in it before he gets anything back. From one flock of turkeys for example, he has three hundred and fifty thousand dollars of expenses before he receives any money. So he called and said I can’t take the risk, I am scared because of the AI. We’ve never had any issues of turkeys having the AI, but I can’t afford to take the risk. So the Ministry okayed it and decided that this year we will be importing turkey. Hats off to them because they said no problem and they supported us with no problem. The ministry, the C.E.O….from there we had complications because the Butterball Company were creating a lot of problems with shipping turkey…only to come to Belize only to be stopped and all the birds taken away. So that’s the history for the turkey this year in a short blimp.  Obviously now we are just hoping and praying that they will be able to offload those ships.”

Quality Poultry General Manager Says Impact is Tremendous

According to Barkman the impact is tremendous and the losses so far are about half a million dollars during one of the busiest times of the year. For now, the resolution of the standoff is crucial.

On the Phone: Raymond Barkman, General Manager, Quality Poultry Products

“I have another ship that I have some turkeys on that took a different route. If these guys will be able to figure this stuff out, I should still be able to have turkeys in by…I have another ship that has turkeys as well. I hope this one will be able to come in. it should come in today or tomorrow, which would be lucky so that we can see where we stand.”

Duane Moody

“Sir if the strike persists and is still into effect today or tomorrow when that cargo comes in, what could be your plan B to ensure that you get those turkeys in and to your customers?”

On the Phone: Raymond Barkman

“Well you see, then we’ll have problems. I have looked into the situation of bringing it through Mexico, but there is a lot of red tape there bringing it through Mexico because there is a lot of issues.  I have considered it seriously. I have been looked into the option, but it is not favorable for anybody and I will be running a huge risk with Mexican authorities to begin with because they don’t like anything coming through in turkey form or chicken in their country to begin with. So that option in dwindling. I had high hopes yesterday with that road, but that option is dwindling at the moment. I have not given up completely.”

Duane Moody

“What would you say are the implications that this is having on your business?”

On the Phone: Raymond Barkman

“My goodness, it is huge. I don’t have an answer for that as yet. It is just bad in every area. For revenue, in sales, in our reputation…anything you can point our finger to. And we all know how this will go; that the blame will come back to us somehow and not the stevedores. And obviously the union or the stevedores won’t pay so obviously it will come back to us. So geez, this is huge.”

Channel 5