Archive for 'Bananas'
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
CHINESE GROWN BANANAS
Bananas pop up the world over.
Pictured here are locally grown Chinese ones. The red tape prevents the customer from splitting the hands to suit themselves, leaving those single bananas that are the bane of a Produce Manager’s life.
I did not wait around to see if the display would be replenished as it needed to be…
Behind the bananas was this “bin” of nectarines.
I was intrigued to note the wide size range and the presence of foliage. This suggests to me mechanical harvesting and minimal grading.
One could also say the condition of the leaves is an indicator of the freshness of the fruit.
LOCALLY GROWN APPLES
These apples are a local variety – quite a pretty pink en masse like this.
To put things into perspective, that price equates to 87 NZ cents! Overall, I found China to be relatively cheap.
Moving on, the deli counters were right next door to the produce department:
No, I have not strayed into the pet store. Yes, those are live turtles and frogs. How else could you be sure that they were fresh?
BULK PULSES AND SPICES
The bulk foods area was also near the produce and displayed in a fashion far more open than I am used to seeing back in NZ supermarkets.
Then I went past the shellfish counter…
Being kept waiting at the checkout can be the last straw for a busy shopper.
CONTROLLING CHECKOUT WAITING TIMES
This blue line is the solution: if there are customers behind this line of blue tiles, then more checkouts are opened – immediately.
Now, here is something I often say should still be seen in NZ supermarkets: the fresh produce weigh station.
PRODUCE WEIGH STATION
Discerning shoppers the world over choose their fruit by look and feel.
WHICH ONE FEELS THE BEST?
This also could be any supermarket in the world:
NEAT AND TIDY PRODUCE DISPLAY
FRESH GREENS IN VOLUME
Signage varies around the store and I noticed that some nutritional information is starting to appear.
Posted: August 4th, 2011 under Bananas, I went shopping today, Supermarket - produce.
Once upon a time, there was a banana company. After a chequered career using different names, the banana company settled on a new name, which it has stuck with now for many decades. That name is Chiquita. For many years Chiquita then focused on its banana business and eventually they thought, “wouldn’t it be nice if we put little Chiquita stickers on every banana leaving our plantations in Honduras, Panama and elsewhere?” So they did. Every once in a while they asked themselves the question again, which why one can now buy Chiquita pineapple, Chiquita mangoes and Chiquita ‘god knows what’, depending on which part of the world one lives. In recent years Chiquita has been asking itself a few other questions which are captured as captions under the three photos that follow. (Photos taken in Frankfurt, early February 2011)
How About We Take The Chiquita Sticker Into The High Street And Stick It On The Front Door?
What Else Could We Sell Our Adoring Public? Particularly In Winter?
And If We Provide Some Nice Bright Yellow Chairs, We Might Even Sell Some Bananas For Dessert!
The concept employed by Chiquita has a name – brand migration. It is often played at the corporate level and usually with mixed results. Companies engaged in playing the game usually end up learning a few hard lessons such as
- Success depends on consumer perception and not on player desire
- The rules of the game differ between supermarket aisles
- PRODUCT marketing strategies and SERVICE marketing strategies are different beasts altogether
Nevertheless, success can be sweet. I wonder how long the potato grower queue is who want to discuss supply agreements with Chiquita!?
Posted: February 20th, 2011 under Bananas, Germany, Produce.
Tags: Bananas, Consumer, Germany