Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : April 26th 2015 Contents A11
April 26, 2015 www.guardian.co.tt Sunday Guardian
By the end of this year, the first antibi-
otic-free and hormone-free chicken farm
is expected to be established in T&T.
The idea is being hatched by founder of
Blooms Imports, businessman Jason Francis.
For the past three years, Francis has been
selling hormone-free chicken parts and
whole chickens imported from the United
States to restaurants, gourmet shops and
selected supermarkets. The demand for this
product by chicken lovers in T&T has been
growing since they consider it safer and
healthier to consume, and kinder to the
Francis, who operates his business in
Diego Martin, now wants to spread his wings
and establish the country s first all-natural
According to Francis, the majority of local-
ly grown chickens are injected with hor-
mones and antibiotics. The antibiotics are
injected into the eggs and added to the feed
in low dosages in order to prevent diseases
in the chickens. Hormones make chickens
grow faster. A chicken grown on antibiotics
and hormones sells for far less than an all-
natural chicken. Hormone-free chicken
breasts cost between 50 and 60 per cent
more than local chicken breasts at super-
markets in T&T.
Francis said he sells whole antibiotic-free
and hormone-free chicken at $20 per pound.
"This price includes a 61 per cent import
duty which is passed on to the consumer.
It is really expensive for me to bring in the
chickens," Francis explained. He said, how-
ever, that once the farm comes on stream,
he would sell whole chicken at $17 per
pound. Francis thinks more people would
be able to afford the chicken if it were grown
On February 25, Francis in a Facebook
video appealed to large and small poultry
farmers to partner with him to start a hor-
mone-free farm. The three-minute video generated
a favourable response from several farmers, Francis
said. Francis, a national of the US who married a
Trinidadian, said one farmer expressed an interest
in getting involved in the business.
"We are willing to put in the time and money to
raise the all-natural chickens here. We are not going
to sacrifice quality for quantity. I am almost there.
I am almost to the point where I can say we are
going to do it soon. The foremost thing is we want
more customers to be able to buy the product. I think
it is possible. It is not going to be easy. But we are
going to give it our best shot."
So far, Francis said, one site in Debe had been
identified, and a farmer in Tobago had also expressed
Francis said the farm should be up and running
within the next eight months, which could help
reduce the food import bill, generate revenue for the
country, supply a superior product to chicken lovers,
and give the people of T&T a healthy alternative.
"The demand for the organic chicken is growing.
In some cases, customers do not mind paying a little
extra for the chicken that is not fed hormones and
antibiotics," Francis said.
Once the farm becomes operational, Francis plans
to sell whole chickens then parts.
He is yet to work out if the farm will operate on
a small or large scale.
"Customers do their own research on chickens
that are grown on hormones and antibiotics; that is
why they come to us," Francis said.
He said many local farmers gave their chickens
commercialised feed, which has a longer shelf life.
"If you are giving your chickens regular feed it is
not organic. It s got medicines in that feed that they
just do not know."
The farmer who partners with Imports Bloom
must be able to mill his own feed, which Francis
promises will be free from hormones.
"If they are unable to do this, we will import an
all-natural feed from the US. We are not getting any
response from the local mills or anybody from the
feed companies that want to change their ingredients
a little bit for us. There is one guy who is willing
to set up a mill for us so they can put whatever ingre-
dients we want in the feed," Francis said.
The farm would also pay attention to the way it
processes its chickens.
Whereas birds are typically dipped in a vat of water
after plucking, Francis plans to air dry the birds.
Information obtained from Wikipedia stated that
every year, more than 40 billion chickens are slaugh-
tered worldwide for meat, the vast majority of them
intensively factory farmed.
Hormone-free chicken farm in T&T by year-end
Founder of Blooms Imports Jason Francis.
PHOTO: MICHEAL BRUCE
Chickens on a US farm
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