Scepticism meets turtle meat price hike

TOPturtleLEAD

Reaction to the news turtle meat is
tripling in price has been swift, with several restaurants rethinking if or how
often they will be serving the traditional meat.

Effective Monday, the price of
turtle stew rose from $5.40 per pound to $16 per pound, while the price of
turtle steak rose from $9 to $27 per pound.

South Coast Bar and Grill
proprietor Tony Powell was not happy with the price hike.

“It is a shame that our national
dish is being priced out of reach of many working locals,” he said.

His restaurant serves turtle on
Fridays and Sundays.

“We will try to keep it but will
have to raise the price to $15 effective Friday, and with the economy so tight,
we will have to see how that goes,” he said, noting that the price is now close
to that of lobster.

“Personally I think it will be out
of reach of the working people who like it,” he said.

“It’s our national dish, like
saltfish and ackee is in Jamaica and everyone should be able to afford to eat
it.”

A favourite with George Town
locals, Welly’s restaurant serves turtle stew every Friday, which sells for $12
a plate.

The restaurant’s Wayne English said
he wants to look into the matter further before making a firm decision on how
the establishment will handle the price increase.

“But at triple the price I don’t
think it will be feasible to sell turtle in the future,” he said.

“I think we may have to boycott
it,” he joked.

Dorothy Scott of Champion House
said the dramatic rise seems to be a bad decision, as turtle meat is mostly
sold to locals.

“We’d have to sell it for close to
$20 a plate and that will cut off the market,” she said.

“We don’t think we will keep
carrying it if it is that price.”

She noted while it is mostly
foreign tourists who purchase steak, locals want to eat stew, both of which are
on the daily menu if the restaurant has the meat in stock.

“We could sell a lot more every day
if we could get more, but clearly it is very scarce,” she said.

“But I think just raising the price
will not be enough to solve the problems at the turtle farm. I understand that
they have a very high overhead but raising the price might just be a drop in
the overall bucket.”

Paradise Bar and Grill on George
Town’s harbour front has had a variety of turtle products including burgers,
soup, steak and fritters on its menu – until today.

“I made the decision to take all of
our turtle products off the menu. I can’t hike up the prices to make it
feasible; it’s just too expensive,” said Paradise proprietor Gary Bodden.

“I hate to have to do that as it is
a favourite item for our cruise ship customers, but I don’t see any alternative.”

He echoed Ms Scott’s scepticism
that jacking up turtle meat prices will have a big overall impact on the Turtle
Farm’s finances.

 “I am interested to see how much difference it
will make to the $1million a month the Turtle Farm is losing,” he said.

“I wonder if it is going to have an
economic benefit in relation to the cost of the consequences of raising the
price.”

TOPturtleSTORY

Turtles swim at the Boatswain’s Beach Turtle Farm. The price of the creatures’ meat has gone up.
File

1 COMMENT

  1. Another low blow for the small businesses in Cayman. They won’t be able to afford it therefore locals won’t be able to eat it at the outrageous prices they would have to charge. Isn’t the local economy hurting enough ?

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