Tag: Australia

West Island Shananigans – The Aussies Are At It Again

Dick Smith is an Australian icon. They don’t have many – and as we know Phar Lap and Pavlova had their origins in New Zealand.  So did Russell Crowe as a a matter of fact, but I am digressing.  Anyway, we are used to it by now that our West Island cousins are always either claiming as theirs something that is most certainly not theirs – or trying to stop quality produce from New Zealand entering the land of Oz on the basis of scientifically unsustainable assertions.newbeetrootsizedwebshadow_0

Now we have a new variation to the theme.  Caustic Australian reactions when something is taken away which they consider rightfully theirs.  The case in point – Beetroot.  In that particular case, we have Heinz on an Australasian basis shifting its beetroot production for whatever reasons from Australia to Hawkes Bay in New Zealand and all hell is breaking loose.  Superior product in Australia, claims about inferior product in New Zealand, perceived threat to the Australian way of life….you name it, Dick says it.

The only half pie relevant comment Dick Smith makes  relates to the fact that multinationals have a habit of shifting production from one country to another as it suits and that New Zealand could find itself in a similar position in the future. True – but one would need to ask the question…What lead to the change in the first place and what can be learned ?

One thing Australia needs to learn – and not just related to beet root – is that the global trade concept is not a one way street that can be manipulated at will.  Dick Smith and others would do well by picking up A Splendid Exchange – How Trade Shaped the World (by William J Bernstein.)  And anyone else trying to figure out how come towns are no longer just consuming what is grown in front of their gates could benefit from having a read as well.  The whole concept and origin of trade is very well explained in this book, starting with the Sumerian and finishing with the oil trade of the 20th Century and the impact of the WTO.




Here We Go Again – Only It Is Apples This Time

I did not think I would end up writing that soon again about what is the Holy Grail  to some and an abomination for others – regulated marketing!  But as the New Zealand apple industry is trying to come to grips with the opportunities and threats represented by gaining access to the lucrative Australian market, the regulated marketing concept is getting another outing.  And rightly so, if for no other reason but to ensure that the industry has looked at all the options open to it.  As it stands, the debate on the matter is going on right now as I write this, today,  at the Pipfruit Meeting  in Hastings.

What is the core issue?

Well, when  apple marketing was deregulated in the late nineties the New Zealand pipfruit industry was shaken to its core, pardon the pun, and there exists a more or less general agreement that we stuffed up had not thought the issues entirely through and acted prematurely.  The since reconstituted, changed and slimmed down pipfruit industry which is earning no where near the margins it did under regulation is within reach of the biggest prize denied for close to a century – market access into Australia.  Naturally those of us who have learned from our actions and are also able to observe the fortunes of our friends, the kiwifruit growers, would like to see an orderly approach to entering the Australian market rather than a stampede akin to the “Running with the Bulls’ festival in Pamplona, which is a real possibility.  The smart money amongst the apple growing fraternity is trying to gain government support for creating order by way of manouvering Australian apple exports into HEA jurisdiction.  The excitable element of the industry, the element who are natural salesmen, be that of apples or second hand cars, do not want a bar of this. I do sincerely hope that common sense will prevail.  We need to go to Australia in a coordinated and strategic fashion.  Loose cannons need to get to the back of the queue and let wiser heads prevail.

A tricky one, though.  A free market government that nevertheless supports the kiwifruit regulations and faces an election in three months time.  An authority, HEA, who is all sorts of things but NOT a regulator in the way apple growers might think or like.  Australian growers who would love nothing better than see us shoot ourselves in the foot.  And Australian corporate retailers ready to pounce.

By the way, let us not for even one minute assume that Australian growers have rolled over and are playing dead.  On the contrary, here is a submission by one Australian orcharding family which considers itself under threat from our apples.



The West Island Banana Price Slump

The Australian ABC network ran a story on low banana prices in late May, stating that grower returns had dropped to A$5 a carton.  The story was picked up by Fresh Plaza, who being Dutchmen, managed to get their geography wrong and announced the story under the headline, “NZ: Bananas going dirt cheap”.  I have no problems with Australia being mistaken to be a part of New Zealand.  I refer to the Land  of OZ as our West Island quite frequently myself. 

The real news in this story is actually not that the Dutch are geographically challenged, but that Australian growers have discovered what to them seems to be a new revalation altogether.

Far North Queensland grower Doug Phillips is being qoted as saying,  he is “still sending fruit to market, but only the pick of the bunch.  We’re only sending the very best of the bunch, we’re not sending any large or mediums. If there’s any marks on it at all it’s getting thrown out.”

Well fancy that.  Australian fruit growers have discovered that one can maintain prices by “only sending the pick of the bunch” to market.  I wonder how long before they trying to patent that highly exciting bit of new knowledge they have gained  and try to sell it to us?