August 15, 2013
CHICKEN BACK SHORTAGE HURTS VENDORS
Diandra Grandison, Staff Reporter
Jerked chicken back vendors are currently on the verge of extinction after news broke that there is currently a shortage of the meat part plaguing the island.
Recently, THE STAR visited the commercial hub of downtown Kingston which is considered by many to be the mecca for jerked chicken back vendors, who can be seen on almost every street and lane selling their inexpensive, yet tasty treat.
However, during our visit, THE STAR had to search assiduously to find these vendors as there were hardly any in sight, in fact, during our late afternoon tour, we were only able to find two of these vendors, which may come as a shock to many.
"About 12 of us would be in the Parade area selling on the road, it's the worse I've seen it in all my years of doing this; like every day it a get worse, is di worse of times now," Joan, a jerk chicken back vendor for more than 10 years, told THE STAR.
Jerkie, another vendor who sells jerked chicken back and neck on Pechon Street, told THE STAR that his business has been affected significantly by the current shortage.
"Business bad now man, very bad. Mi can't get it fi buy and when mi do get it, mi buy it dear. The capitalist dem double the price! Wicked dem wicked!" A distressed Jerkie told THE STAR.
Jerkie told our news team that prior to the shortage, he paid $1,300 for a case of chicken back but now, he is forced to pay $1,850 an increase of $550 or almost 50 per cent.
He said due to this increase, he has been forced to also increase the price of his jerked chicken back.
"Mi used to sell one chicken back fi $100, now is $120 for it, kyah put on no more than that or people naa go buy it."
Joan, who sells on Kings Street, told THE STAR she has been forced to stop selling jerked chicken back altogether, and is currently only selling jerked pork.
"Around two weeks now, mi stop sell jerk chicken back, the price gone up sky high. Business bad now because mi getting less customers; customers looking the cheapest prices now, they not paying $120 fi one piece of meat," she said.
Both Jerkie and Joan agreed that the decline in the number of jerked chicken back vendors is as a result of the chicken back shortage and their inability to purchase the now pricey poultry part.
While Jerkie stated, "People naa come out come sell because dem nuh have it."
A produce vendor, who is also a regular jerked chicken back consumer, told THE STAR that due to the shortage he and other vendors have also been affected.
"We kyah get no jerk chicken back fi buy, chicken back scarce, most a dem affi a buy and cook chicken but dem kyah buy it and we kyah really afford it. Is about a month now we nuh get no jerk chicken back fi buy."
Meanwhile, Agriculture Minister Roger Clarke announced that the scarcity is due to a shortage in the United States from where Jamaica imports and the inability of local chicken farmers to sufficiently meet the local demand for the poultry.
This inadequacy is the reason, according to the minister, for the drastic increase in chicken back prices.