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Nov 4, 2011

CPBL gives factory’s side of citrus squabble

The Citrus Industry is constantly in chaos as the owners of Citrus Products of Belize Limited being Banks Holdings of Barbados and the Citrus Growers Association Investment Company Limited can’t agree on the management of the company. Last week, the CGA pointed out that thousands of dollars would be lost since the factory, under the management of Henry Canton, would not accept early oranges. The factory is now accepting oranges but the C.E.O. of CPBL wanted to give his side of the story. News Five’s Isani Cayetano travelled to the citrus belt and filed this report.

Isani Cayetano, Reporting

Antagonism among the movers and shakers within the citrus industry remains ongoing as the new crop year which began on Wednesday is already off to a rocky start.  Prior to the C.C.B. factory opening its doors for the delivery of grapefruits, growers were irate that thousands of early variety oranges lay rotting in orchards across the citrus belt.  The massive financial loss, as it has been described by the Citrus Growers Association, is the result of a decision taken by its affiliate, Citrus Products of Belize Ltd., to postpone the processing of orange concentrate.  Today C.E.O. Henry Canton explained the rationale behind his position.

Henry Canton

Dr. Henry Canton, C.E.O., Citrus Products of Belize Ltd.

“At the time when we saw that the grapefruit was ready to come in we also were assessing oranges but we thought that the oranges were just on the break of being ready and we thought that it was better to have a week of cool weather, dry weather and stuff like that.  When it’s cool, dry and sunny the ratios and the maturity of the fruits accelerates and it happens quickly.  So we figure we were on or at and around the second week, at that position where it would be iffy that farmers would end up with more rejects than necessary and we thought that it would be necessary to just hold off and be a little bit more safer [and] end up with a little bit more safer and end up with less rejects and stuff.  The decision was to monitor it day by day and see how we would open.  Ordinarily we would open on a Wednesday because it begins the payroll period.  The payroll period is from Wednesday to Tuesday and that’s why the numbers the ninth and the sixteenth came up.”

While the prices per pound solid and box of fruit were recently increased there is still contention between CGA and CPBL over the pricing of citrus products being sold on the foreign market.  CGA strongly argues that its subsidiary remains obstinate and continues to undersell both orange and grapefruit concentrates.  CPBL, on the other hand, says its prices are based on a fluctuating futures market.

Dr. Henry Canton

“That contention will always be because the price on citrus is a very volatile price and the market moves.  So if anybody wanted to accuse anybody of anything, [for example] let’s take futures today or futures yesterday because I haven’t looked at it this morning.  November futures were at $1.90 yesterday, [it] closed out [at that price] but you can’t trade November futures.  I think January futures were $1.79, I think, is where they were at.  So if anybody that knew marketing would know that talking about $1.90 [or] selling at $1.90 is off the rates but if I wanted to create havoc I could say hold on the futures is at $1.90 okay, but in fact the trading is really at $1.79.”

Beyond the issue of prices is the fact that CGA no longer recognizes Canton’s position as CPBL’s chief executive officer after terminating him in December of last year.  Canton says all correspondences from CPBL’s parent company have completely circumvented him.

Dr. Henry Canton

“I am the C.E.O. of CPBL.  I’ve been recognized by everybody who does business with us except C.G.A. It has been very awkward for the company because C.G.A. insists on bypassing me with all correspondence when the professional way that one corresponds with a company is through the C.E.O., in particular if it’s coming from C.G.A. or its directors.  If they want to communicate with the C.F.O. or the C.O.O. or the administrative manager it should be directed through the C.E.O., through them for a response.  C.G.A. has not shown that respect.  They try to deal directly with the person and bypass me because they say they do not recognize me as the C.E.O.”

Reporting for News Five, I am Isani Cayetano.

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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