In February, Quality Poultry Products in Spanish Lookout was HACCP certified. and then in May, it was Caribbean Chicken in Blue Creek. HACCP stands for Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point. It is basically a food safety system put in place by businesses to ensure that consumers get clean, quality goods which meet an international sanitary standard.

Now, beyond local customer satisfaction, Quality Poultry and Caribbean should be able to export chicken within CARICOM because of this certification.

A release from CARICOM states "The approval came on October 6th … poultry plants from six CARICOM Member States including Barbados, Belize, Guyana, Jamaica, Suriname, and Trinidad and Tobago - were cleared to sell poultry products intra-regionally ." This was the decision of the 71st Special Meeting of the Council for Trade and Economic Development (COTED) on Agriculture at the CARICOM Secretariat, Georgetown, Guyana.

We'll see how it goes, because Caribbean countries - Belize included - are famous for putting up barriers to trade to protect local producers.

Belize's Poultry Can Compete

Previously we told you how CARICOM had approved Belizean poultry products for export to other countries in the region. That's because the chickens form Quality Poultry and Caribbean chicken meet the international HACCP ("HASAP") standards.

But, can Belizean poultry find a foothold in Caribbean markets?

According to the manager of the Belize Poultry Association this is an opening long wished for:

Armando Cowo, Manager - Belize Poultry Association
"I mean we were waiting for that with our fingers and toes crossed. We gotten that. The next step now which I have initiated is we wrote a letter to the minister of foreign trade saying that based on the approval of the 71st meeting held in Guyana last week, we are applying now to the government to assist us with getting market penetration in the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago. So now the government has the legal framework which was approved last week to go ahead and process that on our behalf and now we are hoping that by within the next two weeks we can have an answer from the government of Trinidad and Tobago. Maybe it might take a little bit more, but we have started the process. But the legal framework is there now for us to be able to do it."

"We have hit the ground running by applying for that and right now it's open to the hands of the government to assist us which I know they will do and they know they will do it because everyone is excited about this prospect of going into CARICOM with our chicken. Trinidad imports millions of dollars of chicken from the US, so we are trying to see if we can be a part of that market and of course as production goes up then we will try to target the other countries as well. So we are looking at the beginning of the growth of a home grown industry to go international."

Cowo says reverse market penetration by Caribbean producers is unlikely because Belize produces grain to feed its chicken while other Caribbean countries have to import grains to feed theirs.

Channel 7