BY MARK CUMMINGS Editor-at-Large, Western Bureau firstname.lastname@example.org
SAVANNA-LA-MAR, Westmoreland — Not satisfied with the level of pork consumption in Jamaica, Valdence Gifford, managing director of Sweet River Ltd in Westmoreland, says his company is soon to embark on a marketing and education campaign, in an effort to significantly increase pork consumption in the island.
"It must be noted that the per capita pork consumption in the island is extremely low, and so we want to increase local consumption over the next few years," Gifford told the Jamaica Observer West.
The island is said to have one of the lowest pork consumption rates in the world — roughly one-seventh of the global average.
And, it is estimated that some nine million kilogrammes of pork is consumed in the island annually.
Gifford, who is also the councillor (PNP) for the Whitehouse Division in Westmoreland, told the Observer West that he would like to see the consumption of pork increase to about 10kg per capita within the next five years, and by a further 100 per cent by 2022.
The consumption of pork per capita in the island is said to be about 3.3 kilogrammes, while in the neighbouring island of Cuba it is about 32 kilogrammes.
According to Gifford, his company will be collaborating with several other companies to drive the marketing blitz.
"We will definitely be calling on other industry players to join up in the marketing and education campaign, aimed at tackling the myth associated with the consumption of pork," he explained.
But Gifford will have to cross several hurdles, which include Jamaica's dominant chicken diet and the anti-pork influence of Rastafari and Adventist groups.
President of the West Jamaica Conference (WJC) of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, Pastor Astor Bowes said that while he has nothing against any campaign to promote the consumption of pork, his organisation will continue to encourage people not to eat it.
"Anybody can launch a campaign. We have nothing against that, but we will continue to teach our members against the consumption of pork, as we have been doing for the past 150 years," he said.
"The Bible condemns it; so we are against eating it."
Quoting the Bible, Pastors Bowers said only animals that chew their cud and those that are cloven-footed with hooves divided in two, are to be consumed. "Pigs do not match this Biblical criteria," he stressed.
But apart from that, the WJC president, claimed that it has long been established that the type of worm that is found in pigs "has a negative impact on one's health", when the animal is consumed.
He emphasised that Adventists will continue to discourage its members from consuming pork.
"We will continue to teach against it, and to ensure that our members don't eat it," he said.
Meanwhile, Rastafarian Michael Cameron told the Observer West that while he too, would not be averse to any campaign launched to promote more consumption of pork, he believes that "meat on the whole should not be eaten".
"No flesh should be eaten. Maybe if it wasn't for the consumption of the bloody meat there would not be so much violence on the land," said the 44 year old Cameron.
A fruit vendor in Falmouth, Trelawny, for more than a decade, Cameron said that he had stopped eating meat from he was 14 years old.