Brown hens at a poultry farm. (Image courtesy Ministry of Trade and Industry)

Trade and Industry Minister, Senator Paula Gopee-Scoon, has restated Government’s commitment to working with the local poultry industry to ensure its continued viability and sustainability.

The assurances were given by the Minister, and her Cabinet colleague, Senator Clarance Rambharat, Minister of Agriculture, Land and Fisheries, during a virtual meeting held recently with executives of the Poultry Association of Trinidad and Tobago (PATT).

The meeting, held last Wednesday May 19th, saw poultry producers raise the issues of chicken imports and fair trade and treatment on the domestic market.

Both ministers assured PATT members that Government understands the important role they place in the domestic food sector, and restated a determination to ensure the growth, sustainability and resilience of the poultry industry.

“based on PATT’s production data, some one million chickens are consumed in T&T on a weekly basis, which represents both domestic and food service demand.”

According to official data from the Ministry of Trade and Industry, PATT is a key stakeholder in the food industry as it represents all four major chicken producers in this, as well as being affiliated with the Table Egg (Layers) Association, which includes another 30 producers. The combined efforts of these producers have resulted in the growth of this critical industry, as according to the PATT, an average of 42 million chickens are produced locally, every year.

The Ministry notes that based on PATT’s production data, some one million chickens are consumed in T&T on a weekly basis, which represents both domestic and food service demand. The data further reveals that eight out of every ten chickens consumed in Trinidad and Tobago are sourced locally, clearly illustrating how essential is the sector to meeting local demand.

This country remains a net importer of poultry products despite the efforts of the local poultry industry. According to the data, from 2016 to 2020, average annual imports of poultry and poultry products were valued at TT$112 million.  Meanwhile, exports remain at a modest average of TT$3.5 Million for that same period.

In 2013, Government introduced a surcharge on imported poultry products, and in 2018, a mandatory Regional Standard for Poultry products was implemented—two important steps taken to support the local poultry industry, and assist with its development and sustainability.