Corporate Area retailers report lower corned beef sales

Sunday Observer writer

Sunday, May 14, 2017

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There is a general view among some retailers contacted by the Jamaica Observer that sales of corned beef have declined, weeks after a ban that was placed on imports of the commodity into Jamaica was lifted.Corporate Area and St Catherine retailers have stated that not only has demand for the product gone down, but sales have been slow.

Corned beef imports from the South American country of Brazil were suspended on March 21 as news from that part of the globe suggested that there was contamination at some of the plants which manufacture and package the product for export to several countries, including Jamaica.

But two weeks after, Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries Minister Karl Samuda lifted the ban on April 4. At that point he said that technocrats within his ministry were satisfied that the exporting plants were complying with safety regulations.

Last week GraceKennedy Ltd, regarded as the largest importer of corned beef, stated that sales for the processed protein food had fallen as a result of the two-week ban, after reports emerged that Brazil, also the company's main supplier of corned beef, was mixing both fresh and rotten meat and distributing it to the public. Amidst the scandal, the company withdrew the product from the shelves until further investigations were done to substantiate the claims.

Even after the ban was lifted and the Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries had reassured the public that the investigation proved that the claims were in fact not true, many consumers vowed never to eat the canned product again, although others expressed that they would continue, based on the assurance provided by the ministry.

A representative of Family Wholesale on Molynes Road in Kingston said that people are buying the item but things have been slow. He, however, said that there was no plan to try to increase sales. Other retailers on Molynes Road agreed that the product has been slowly selling, but they could not state how badly it affected their business.

Spanish Town shopkeepers, who did not want to be named, also confirmed that their sales had been affected and not many persons are asking for the product as they would have before the ban.

One wholesaler in the Papine, St Andrew, area said that he had not even removed the product from the shelves during the two weeks of the ban because it was always being bought, even throughout the period of the ban. He also stated that so far, sales have continued to be good for corned beef and his business has not been negatively affected, neither is he concerned about the issue because, according to him “people will always purchase corned beef”.

Other retailers, including one supermarket along Red Hills Road, said that that they had not been checking their stock to confirm whether or not they have been affected.

One shopkeeper along Lyndhurst Road said that he normally does not stock corned beef because he never had a market for it before, so he never placed any great investment in the item. He also mentioned that due to his personal dislike of the item he rarely purchases it to be sold, so his sales have always been low and slow.

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