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The Bahamas will not be significantly impacted by an expected increase in food prices in the United States, according to a local supermarket executive.
Super Value President Rupert Roberts said a severe drought that has impacted the United States' corn industry will lead to a six percent increase in food prices in that jurisdiction.
He shared with Guardian Business that the United States is only one of the country's suppliers, noting that Super Value also purchases products from other international markets.
"With the drought affecting the U.S., we will just move to other markets around the world. There may be some items of choice that the consumer wants. However, I really don't expect the drought in the U.S. to affect The Bahamas at all," he explained.
While he admitted that an increase would affect dairy products, as corn is a significant component of cattle feed in the U.S., his milk items come from places like Brazil and Peru.
"For instance, we get our corn from Brazil as opposed to the U.S. We are now importing cream and condensed milk from Peru. We shift markets and bring in containers from New Zealand, Canada and wherever else that is cheaper at the time," Roberts said.
Super Value's chief noted that he spends over $100 million on imports. However, he pointed out that his business does a lot of local shopping through local wholesalers.
"There are ten conglomerates that own the food industry. Their prices are better than the domestic prices in the U.S. if we were to import through other sources. That's why we do a great deal of purchasing through local wholesalers," Roberts added.
Agriculture and Marine Resources Minister V. Alfred Gray acknowledged that the Bahamian food bill, which is impacted significantly by the cost of imports from the U.S., has remained unchanged this year in the $500 million range.
Earlier this week, Gray said he would consider a ban on certain imports if Bahamian farmers can prove they could produce food in sufficient quantities at a reasonable price.
"I intend to stop the imports if that must happen, so I beg them to cooperate. We are encouraging farmers to prove they can produce, whether it's farm produce, poultry or eggs, in sufficient quantity at a reasonable price. It is this minster's intention to do as much as is legally possible to avoid import of that same product," he shared.
However, the minister admitted that there are some cases where massive imports may be necessary if The Bahamas is unable to produce the quantity that would supply certain businesses. In those instances, companies would have to have specialty permits.
BIMINI, The Bahamas - Educating youth on the economic value of agriculture is the approach that the Bimini All-Age School is taking to help reduce the national food import bill. Students are practicing at school how to grow their own vegetables in home gardens to encourage sustainability.
"We can grow almost anything in Bimini. The very same things that we grow over here, we are importing," said Arnold Dorsette, BAIC assistant general manager.
"What we need to do is grow more of it, and grow it in a way that we can grow it more consistently to our friends and family and some of the businesses that are importing it on Bimini."
Almost $500 million annually are spent every year to import food from other countries into The Bahamas. The Ministry of Agriculture wants Bahamians to understand the potential of personal wealth building by supporting local farmers and buying Bahamian agriculture products.
"Can you imagine last year we imported some 500 million dollars worth of food in The Bahamas," said Mr. Dorsette.
"That is a significant amount of money that is going out of the country to buy food, some of which we can grow and we are not taking advantage of growing and encouraging more of food production in the country."
By Cheri Wood
So what do your New Year's resolutions look like? Did eating healthier in 2013 make the list?
For most of us this is a resolution we make each year. Without doing any research I think it is pretty safe to say that most of us fall off the "eating green" wagon soon after we make the commitment. One of the excuses we can no longer use for our inability to stick to a righteous resolution is that the island does not have enough healthy food choices to keep us engaged in our quest for better health. This might have been the case several years ago, but in 2013 Grand Bahama's food stores now offer a plethora of fresh fruits and vegetables along with more healthy options than ever before. We even now have a food store that caters to the island's vegetarian and vegan customers by offering only products that are organically grown and processed.
IT'S ABOUT TIME is the name of a new mini food store located on the corner of Explorer's Way and West Mall (across from Supreme Dry Cleaners). This 100% Bahamian owned store only offers organic products and is packed with choices never seen before on Grand Bahama. IT'S ABOUT TIME offers sprouted grain items, protein rich foods, gluten-free products and snack chips that are actually good for you. From hemp oil to quinoa flour, this place is a haven for those who believe in eating healthy.
AML Foods Limited has announced that it has entered into a definitive development agreement with CKE Restaurants, Inc. to bring the Carl's Jr. franchise to The Bahamas.
Under the agreement, the company will develop a number of restaurants over the next five years, the first of which is expected to open later in 2012, a statement released yesterday said.
"Carl's Jr. is a well established west coast favorite providing premium food and customer service for more than 70 years," said President and CEO of AML Foods Limited Gavin Watchorn.
"Carl's Jr. offers a premium positioning and best in class products, services and facilities which were very appealing to us. We know the brand will resonate with Bahamians, who are highly enthusiastic QSR consumers. We look forward to working closely with the CKE team to introduce their innovative product line and unique marketing to The Bahamas."
Ned Lyerly, executive vice president of global franchise development for CKE Restaurants, added, "The Bahamas is an attractive quick service restaurant market and AML's strong track record in consumer retailing and the food services industry makes them an ideal partner for us.
"We share their core values of exceeding consumer expectations for quality, value and service and know that the Carl's Jr. brand will be well received in the Bahamas. Consumers all over the globe have a healthy appetite for our great-tasting premium products."
Dionisio D'Aguilar, chairman of AML Foods Limited said, "We are very excited about our partnership with CKE Restaurants and the great opportunity it provides for both top and bottom line growth for our company.
"Our newest venture will bring additional synergies directly to our franchise division as well as to our overall company as we continue to expand our sales base without corresponding increases in our central costs."
Carl's Jr. is celebrating more than 70 years in the quick-service industry. What began as a lone hot dog cart in Los Angeles, California in 1941 is today a wholly owned subsidiary of CKE Restaurants, Inc. of Carpinteria, California.
As of the end of Q3 fiscal 2012, CKE, through its subsidiaries, had a total of 3,219 franchised, licensed or company-operated restaurants in 42 states and in 23 countries, including 1,292 Carl's Jr. restaurants and 1,917 Hardee's restaurants with annual sales of US $3.4 billion.
CKE continues to place a major emphasis on expanding its international presence and now operates more than 419 franchise restaurants outside of the United States, the statement said.
The minister of agriculture and marine resources says he would consider a ban on certain imports if Bahamian farmers proved they could produce food in sufficient quantities at a reasonable price.
V. Alfred Gray acknowledged that the Bahamian food bill, chiefly from the U.S., has remained unchanged this year in the $500 million range. That's in the same ballpark of the government's projected deficit at $550 million.
The minister said he strongly encourages local agriculture to drive industry and job growth, and unless the government imposes bans or severely high duties, the country will always be starved for food producers.
"It's not an easy situation out there," he said. "So I am certainly willing to do what I can to assist the industry. We have to consider the consumer. If we can't get enough of the product, that's a problem. But I am prepared to consider banning certain things from imports."
The statement may raise a few eyebrows in the agricultural community. Last month, Tim Hauber, the general manager of Lucayan Tropical, said agriculture in The Bahamas is "almost impossible" given the present constraints. The company has incurred serious losses trying to carve a niche for itself in the market, he explained.
Lucayan Tropical, selling tomatoes, cucumbers and peppers, has struggled with the high cost of labor and fuel, like many other businesses in the country. In the agricultural sector, entrepreneurs like Hauber are competing with not just U.S. companies, but also those in less developed nations, such as Mexico. Lower operating expenses and higher economies of scale make it very challenging to provide an equivalent product at an equivalent price.
"Even in Florida, they are shutting down and moving to other countries, such as Mexico, and the Dominican Republic. There is no duty protection on vegetables here, so we are competing on the same level playing field as people that have a fraction of our costs," he said. "So why would you do it?"
Unfortunately, that's exactly what Gray is asking of farmers in the medium term. For obvious reasons, the government can't turn off the taps without a viable fall-back position.
To get there, the minster acknowledged it could take some "out of the box" thinking.
One idea being floated in some circles is the incorporation of agriculture into the country's penal system. Modelled after similar programs in Canada and the U.S., The Bahamas would build a prison on Andros, for example, and have the inmates farm the land as part of their rehabilitation. Meanwhile, prisoners would not only learn a valuable skill, but also contribute to the country's food production.
"It has so much merit to it," the minister agreed. "It has to be a government decision though, rather than ministerial. I can see the day when something like that might become necessary. Prisoners in my view should produce their own food, and by extension, sell to the locals. So when they come out of prison, they have a bank account."
Hefty government debt could make funding for such initiatives a challenge, he noted.
"I have a plan and I will be announcing it in the coming weeks. It will be my plan for the next several years," he said.
Increased prosperity, a well-traveled populous and an economy that depends on visitors from around the world have all contributed to the diet of modern Bahamians. It varies greatly from that of our ancestors just a generation or two ago and has dramatically increased our waistlines.
Every once in a while someone I talk to at the restaurant
makes a comment about the food while we're talking and likens it to art. Is it really art or is it simply
craftsmanship? Most chefs would likely
say the latter. I'm not quite sure where
I stand. I was for a very long time a professional
musician. That is someone most people
would consider an artist. However, for
me the transition to cooking high-end food was based almost entirely on my
ability to continue being creative while doing something that I loved. My entire life has been the battle between
musician and cook and even though the cook seems to have won, I don't really
believe I'm less of an artist.
single thing that defines art to most is the ability to see into the artist's
thoughts or passion by looking at the piece and making your observations. I would argue that I can do the same with
food. When I'm in a good mood and
feeling creative the food can be very playful and avant garde, but when I'm
tired or stressed, I look to create comforting food that makes me feel
better. The problem with being a chef is
similar to being an artist; everyone has their own personal opinion based on
style or content as to whether it was good or not.
Food retail consolidation is "inevitable" given the over-supply of competing chains and stores, AML Foods' chief executive telling Tribune Business it was likely to happen first in Freeport, where 10 major players were chasing 40,000-50,000 customers.
Gavin Watchorn, who is also the BISX-listed food retail group's president, said acquisitions were the likeliest route for achieving consolidation, given that no grocery retailers were contemplating failure, while the industry's "diverse" ownership meant mergers would be hard to execute.
With food retail industry veterans describing the current market as "the most competi ...
By NEIL HARTNELL
Tribune Business Editor
Family Guardian Staff Charity Fund and Lucky Food Store & Lucky Restaurant Contributes to "Breathe Easy" Campaign Every year, the employees at Family Guardian put aside money for a charity to be given during the holiday season. This year, the Family Guardian Staff Charity Fund chose the "Breathe Easy Campaign as its beneficiary as the NICU continues to make such a lasting difference in the lives of the infants.