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Family Island companies struggle with price rises

By YOURI KEMP

Tribune Business Reporter

ykemp@tribunemedia.net

Family Island businesses yesterday said they are struggling to contain prices as they grapple with soaring inflationary pressures impacting the entire world.

Valderine Adderley, owner/operator of Adderley’s Motel in Andros, told Tribune Business she is trying her best to “price her goods by what she gets from the wholesalers”. She has decided to “not to go up on prices” as a result of the cost of living crisis buffeting The Bahamas and wider world.

“I know my iceberg lettuce went up but it came back down, and I buy them for $4 a head. I don’t buy Romaine lettuce,” she said. “For my can sodas I sell them for $1, but I know the bottle sodas went up. too. Not every time things go up means you have to go up.

“So I’m managing these high prices myself because I am catering to a minimum wage group of people. When you go to price things you can’t put the price so high on regular things that people buy every day like spaghetti and tuna fish. That’s what the poor people eat every day.”

Ms Adderley spoke after a Cat Island entrepreneur last week voiced “shock” when she discovered a local grocery store was selling lettuce for $15. Nikita Shiel-Rolle, proprietor of the Cat Island Mermaid and Ocean Soul Farm, told the Cat Island Business Outlook conference: “The other day I was really shocked when I went into the grocery store and lettuce was $15. It was regular Romaine lettuce. This is where the realities are striking. We are dealing with food insecurity. How do we develop food sovereignty?”

Nathaniel Adderley, owner/operator of Nathan’s Lodge in Kemp’s Bay, Andros, yesterday added: “Prices have always been high and now they are just higher. We continue to rely on the weekly mailboat. Thank God they have been overlapping on a week from time to time, but we’re managing the best we can to keep a week’s supply of fresh vegetables on hand.”

Given that The Bahamas imports virtually all it consumes, merchants and wholesale suppliers have little choice but to pass on external inflation and price rises driven by overheating and supply chain shortages in the developed economies following the COVID-19 pandemic.

Mr Adderley said he and his sales team have just decided to raise their prices by at least 10 percent, but added that “this is a work in progress and it is a fluid situation”.

Maxine Miller, owner/operator of Seaview Takeaway in Eleuthera, said: “I’m trying my best to deal with the high prices. I get my wholesale from BFS (Bahamas Food Services), and things like lettuce have gone up tremendously, but I guess it is better than buying one at a time from one of the local stores on the island.”

She has so far held the line on increasing her costs, but admitted she “may not be able to maintain this much longer”.

Another Eleuthera businessman, speaking on condition of anonymity, added: “I feel like these prices are too high.” Their average plate of food has gone up by 50 percent in price, they added.

“I used to sell a conch snack for $10 a year ago, and now I have to sell it for $15, but I told my customers and they don’t mind if I go up a dollar or two on a plate because they go to the shops themselves and they see the price of things in the store,” the businessman said.

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