By Michelle Sutherland
The National Agriculture and Trade Show (NATS) 2022 is set to kick off this weekend and one major company whose name is almost synonymous with the weekend festivities, Running W Brand Meats, says it's not going.
On Monday, May 24th the Company via a short press release informed the public that unfortunately, they would not be attending NATS 2022. "This is due to the current short supply locally of Beef and Pork, and the rise in Covid Cases," the company stated.
Following their announcement, several social media fans expressed their disappointment at the last-minute changes. The majority of them stated that over the years Running W's free samples of its big-bone pork chops, baby back ribs, and free sample of sausages and other meat delicacies, are the main reason why they have been returning almost every year to the grounds.
"We are disappointed that we cannot be there this year, but we want to thank our valued customers for your continued support," said the company.
A deeper check into the situation revealed that there is not necessarily a shortage of beef or pork in the country, instead, there is an ongoing price war at play. In this situation, Principal Agriculture Officer and Director of Livestock in the Ministry of Agriculture, Food Security and Enterprise Belarmino Esquivel says that it is more a matter of supply. He explained that while the export market is offering cattle farmers up to $2.40 per pound, local buyers are paying less.
Currently, according to Esquivel, the cattle export business is booming as both Guatemalan and Mexican buyers are offering a higher price to cattle producers when compared to what local Belizean buyers are offering. It, therefore, comes as no surprise, said Esquivel, that the cattle producers will want to sell their products to anyone who offers them a better deal.
That, however, while a good thing for the cattle producers, spells trouble for the local meat processing companies, who are now forced to compete with the high prices for meats which on a daily basis keep fluctuating, even while they are striving to meet profits and overhead cost.
That is where Running W Meats Escander Bedran, owner and manager, says that the company finds itself. That situation is compounded further by the effects of the ongoing dry season on cattle, leading to a shortage of cattle that are ready for slaughter.
Bedran explained that it is because of these factors that the company decided not to attend the National Agriculture and Trade Show. Because apart from incurring a loss, he would only be risking the health of his employees at the event amid the rising covid cases.