Archive for May, 2010

Horticulture Export Authority Chairs Meeting

Last week I attended a New Zealand Horticulture Export Authority (HEA) meeting.  Its full title was HEA Chairs Meeting and Exporter Workshop.  The meeting had a dual purpose.  The morning was spent discussing the findings and recommendations of HEA’s 5-year Statutory Review Report.  The afternoon consisted of workshops on effective produce export market development techniques and capitalising on the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) opportunity with China.

I walked away with several learnings from the day and the concluding dinner. These were:
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Parallel Universes and Supermarkets

It does not matter where in the developed world one lives nor whether one is male or female, straight or otherwise, of European descent or already part of the cultural & ethnic mix that our descendants will turn into – supermarkets are never far from our mind. The hunter/gatherers of prehistoric times pursue these activities within supermarkets today. Supermarkets have, depending whom one wishes to believe, a market share of between 60-85% of the total food business. Yes, I know that there are variations and fluctuations based on store departments, store location and the competence level of store management, but I am talking averages here.  My favourite source of semi-reliable information, Wikipedia (, suggests that

 “a supermarket is a self-servicestore offering a wide variety of food and household merchandise, organized into departments. It is larger in size and has a wider selection than a traditional grocery store and it is smaller than a hypermarket or superstore.”

 Whilst one usually has to take wikipedia with a grain of salt as all and sundry are able to edit contributions on-line , I am sure that most readers would agree with this description as being fairly accurate. Let’s see what else wikipedia has to say on the topic to help us better understand what a supermarket is – and equally as important, what it is not!
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Multi-level Margin Management

There are several levels to this debate. The first and most basic level is – what is a margin and how do I calculate it? I don’t want to waste my time writing about something every retailer should understand, but unfortunately too few do.

The second level is product or category related margins. What should the margin on potatoes be, compared to the one earned by strawberries, bananas or turnips? What is a realistic margin, what is a fair margin and what is downright obscene?
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Literature, Trout Fishing & Fresh Food Departments

I bought a book the other day. There is nothing surprising in that as I buy quite a few. The book’s title, “How to catch a fish”, should also not raise any eyebrows. I do enjoy trout fishing and catching a “fish” in this instance means trout.

What is fascinating though is the author’s approach. Kevin Ireland is no mug. He is one of New Zealand’s most acclaimed writers and has published four novels, two memoirs and fifteen volumes of poetry. He also likes trout fishing and has taken a very methodical approach in his book. Izaak Walton, the 17th century English author revered in trout literati circles, wrote in the Compleat Angler that “… fishing was employment for his idle time… that was not idly spent… a rest to his mind, a diverter of sadness, a moderator of passions… a procurer of contentedness; and that it begat habits of peace and patience in those that professed and practiced it.”
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Produce Market Valencia

Is it a cathedral?  Is it a railway station?  Is it a bull ring?  Or could it by any chance be the produce market in Valencia, Spain?