Archive for 'Bananas'
I still have waste on my mind. There is a country where 1.4 million bananas are wasted every day – as well as 1.5 million tomatoes. But let’s stick to bananas. No, it is not us. The country in question has a few more people living in it, 63.23 million to be precise, not counting Channel Islanders. If it were us, in purely numerical terms and all things being equal, a population of 4.5 million inhabitants would then be wasting just under 100,000 bananas a day. A scary thought. And in case you think I might be making the numbers up, here is the link to the Executive Summary of a UK report on Food Waste published in 2012 . Before I let go of this snippet of information, we might want to consider a couple of other related facts. New Zealand has the highest banana consumption rate per head of population in the developed world, so we might actually be wasting a few more. Our And – our British cuzzies have been working actively at reducing food waste since 2007. That year they chucked out 1.7 million bananas per day. I think we can safely assume that we comfortably hit the 100,000 fruit per day mark, don’t you think? The question is – what are we going to do about it?
And yes, I do know the gentleman in the picture is not British. But he did have this uncanny ability to get right to the nub of an issue when it mattered, so he is the ideal ‘poster boy’ to keep the waste issue front of mind.
Posted: November 11th, 2013 under Bananas.
I took the photo recently on the main railway station in Munich. I am digging it out again because I have been contemplating the DOLE position vis a vis the Oxfam report on banana plantation ethics. On one hand, here is DOLE trying to position its fruit at the sustainable/ethical/credible end of the supply spectrum. On the other hand, CHIQUITA is busy trying to break out from the produce shelf, aiming its offer direct at the consumer.
There is a common theme here. Both companies have built up considerable brand equity in their brand over the decades. Naturally, when one is in such a position, one can be forgiven for looking for arising commercial advantages. In both cases, it involves a positioning exercise with the consumer. Which approach is more plausible do you think? Saying to commuters, “hey look, you can also trust my brand when it comes to buying quality and healthy fruit, fruit snacks and juices for you to eat on your train journey” – or telling shoppers, “we believe we are good corporate citizens and are prepared to tell you that by way of a label to that effect on each bunch of fruit?”
I don’t actually think a straight comparison is possible…but both efforts would not have been undertaken lightly because no business owner goes and deliberately exposes his brand to unnecessary risk. Any new development or initiative undertaken in companies with a high degree of brand equity will sooner rather than later trigger the question, “Do we fully understand how this possible decision would impact on our brand?”
So at the very least , we need to assume that DOLE has not rushed like a headless chicken into a situation where they issue labels which blatantly provide incorrect information. A more likely scenario is this: DOLE would have over the years invested considerable sums into improving the working environment on the banana farms and through that the living standards of employees. Results would have been measurable, prompting the DOLE marketing department to come up with the label approach. The marketing guys would not have had any qualms about this approach, because they believed the results were visible and the campaign justified.
Unfortunately, the discerning first world consumer with a bend towards sustainability, fair trade, political motivation and a transfer of wealth from developed to developing nations cannot agree that the level of positive changes achieved warrant the label and the campaign. Particularly in New Zealand where three vocal people can represent a pressure group which Government is prone to listen to. On any topic…not just bananas.
Then there is the small matter that the charity crying wolf about DOLE’s label happens to be supporting a competing banana project… where are the ethics in that?
In the meantime, DOLE has done the decent thing and suspended the use of the label.
If my attitude towards marketing managers sounds a bit cynical – I remember a Foodtown marketing manager who had a giant guillotine built for a TV commercial. He parked the monstrosity at the top of the Whangaparoa Peninsula cliffs, and filmed cabbage and other unsuspecting produce being chopped in half and chucked down the cliff onto the beach in an attempt to convince customers that produce prices had been permanently reduced…Needless to say, the campaign was a total flop.
And I will, by the way, read the Oxfam report and comment more in due course.
Posted: May 30th, 2013 under Bananas, Observations, Thoughtpieces.
So, where are we at in the lead-up to Easter 2013? That’s right… The CEO who was not going anywhere, did indeed go off somewhere in search of a new home a short week later. The talent which had exited Turners & Growers prior to the now exorcised ex-CEO tripping himself up is happily finding new homes across the road at Freshmax and I presume elsewhere. The Noboa shareholding is wondering whether there will be any more Fyffes banana imports anytime soon and the staff left in situ are running a book on when the next restructure will occur. In the meantime it is business as usual at Turners & Growers. Or is it? I guess, that depends on how one defines this phrase…business as usual.
[Rykers, Leslie Bertram Archibald], 1897-1976 :Turners & Growers Ltd.
Auckland city markets [ca 1931]. Alexander Turnbull Library
If one visits the Timeline on the Turners & Growers website, one quickly discovers that, at least in Turners & Grower country, time appears to have stood still between 1959 and 1993. Nothing happened here, Sir! Nothing to report… Business as usual. Business as usual, my foot. Any observer with the rational thought ability of a seven-year old child is able to deduce that a whole bunch of things occurred between 1959 and 1993…and that Turners & Growers must either have been in a deep slumber a la Snow White after eating her poisoned apple (now here is a thought) or the events of those years must have had such a dramatic impact on the company that the decision was made to simply pretend that those years did not exist!
In order to understand the Turners & Growers of today, one needs to start a little earlier though. In 1936 to be precise. That was the year when Michael Joseph Savage, New Zealand’s first Labour Prime Minister won the general election. He radically started to change the country’s economic drivers. One of the consequences was the establish of a government import monopoly for fresh fruit, managed by the Ministry of Internal Affairs.This state monopoly stayed in place until 1949 when the incoming National Government decided to set up a company in cooperation with all the produce merchants in the country, for the purpose of managing the importation of tropical fruit from a commercial perspective. (What does that remind you of by the way… an early version of a State Owned Enterprise by any chance???) The new company was called Fruit Distributors Ltd (FDL) The company still exists by the way.
In order to get a feeling for what happened next, a visit to this very informative page on the Auckland Retail Fruiterers Association website would not go amiss.
What the Fruiterers site does NOT spell out in detail is that Turners & Growers during the 1950s and 1960s became the majority shareholder in FDL through acquiring the key produce merchant companies across the country, all of which had been allocated a shareholding in Fruit Distributors at the outset. What is not entirely clear today is whether the merchant company acquisitions yielded the shares in FDL by fortuitous happenstance or whether the desire to own FDL drove the competitor buyouts.
…to be continued.
Posted: March 29th, 2013 under Bananas, Industry Politics, Produce, Thoughtpieces.
Tags: Good old days, Turners & Growers
What might this be? Well, it looks like a bunch of bananas. It sure felt like a bunch of bananas and when I ate one, it certainly tasted like a banana. Therefore it is a banana. Case closed.
If only there wasn’t this little blue label on the fruit and that’s where matters gets interesting. You see, during the last ten years the New Zealand consumer has been used to seeing Bonita, Dole and Gracio branded bananas in supermarkets and greengrocers. More recently, Fair Trade fruit has also made an appearance.
Bonita bananas, coming from Ecuador, are imported by Turners & Growers, Dole bananas get here from the Philippines via a joint venture with MG Marketing and Countdown imports Gracio bananas, also from the Philippines.
Consumers care very little about banana politics. As long as the fruit is the right colour, does not have bruises or stem rot and is priced reasonably, bananas will be purchased and consumed. Period.
Only – those of us who have a little inkling on how the produce industry works are left pondering how the Fyffe fruit got into the country in the first place; whether this was a once-off occasion or whether Fyffe will be a regular caller; how Luigi Noboa feels about this; what the impact on the wider banana pricing position will be as a result of someone deciding to mix matters up a little; whether overall volumes coming into the country were adjusted or whether the Fyffe fruit is ‘extra’…. You know, just a few minor considerations really….Yeah, right – to quote the Tui billboards. Anyone interested in a historic perspective of the New Zealand banana business could do worse than following through here.
Posted: February 13th, 2013 under Bananas, Industry Politics, Supply Chain.
Tags: Bananas, Consumer
I made the point of going to the Auckland Food Show; a number of my team did too – and the feedback I received was that it was a very enjoyable experience.
So here is some feedback from my experience:
Allan Fong, a grower of Chinese vegetables in Pukekohe, working to go to the consumer directly. A fantastic example of where the mindset needs to be.
Fairtrade banana importers working to raise their profile. But I saw no sign of Dole, Bonita or Turners & Growers!
Marketer and wholesaler Freshmax promoting the "only available at Countdown" apple variety Mahana Red.
This singing chef was part of the entertainment provided by the Pams range from Foodstuffs.
So that was some of what I saw at the Food Show. What did strike me was what I did not see…
The only bananas on show were Fairtrade ones – no sign of any other brand; now New Zealand is known for being fond of bananas. We certainly do not need to be introduced to the crop per se. But Dole Bananas also travel with some sort of ecolabel or other. And I have no idea what Bonita is up to in this area. But if I were a banana merchant, I would be inclined to keep an eye on the Fair Trade crowd. We are not talking about a passing fad here, but a serious effort to build a sustainable economy in third world countries that has human dignity as its centre piece, something ignored at peril.
Progressive were only there in the form of Freshmax promoting a Countdown exclusive product; while Foodstuffs were there in the guise of their house brand Pams (which they have been promoting heavily over the last several months).
Fresh produce was not there in force at all, unlike other years. No mushrooms, for example, and no mainstream brands such as Wilcox potatoes.
What is going on here? I would have thought that a large Food Show, in a major urban centre, would have marketers out in force.
Is the cost of having a stand at one of these events so expensive that the ROI simply isn’t there?
On the other hand, looking at the many niche exhibitors trying to carve out their place in the sun with the visiting crowds, are the known brands getting just a little complacent?
Posted: August 15th, 2011 under Bananas, Consumer, Food, Produce.
Tags: exhibiting, food shows, marketing