Tag: Consumer

Bananas from the Bay of Plenty?

I think not!

locavore

Grab One is a New Zealand website focused on daily deals and aimed at stimulating targeted consumption.  Nothing wrong with that.  Today, one of the deals popping up in my electronic in-tray is an offer to buy a fruit box, door to door delivery, supplied by Kiwi Growers Direct.

So far so good.

The offer is quite specific…”Tuck into a wide variety of freshly picked fruit including apples, lemons, mandarins, kiwifruit and persimmons.”

Can’t be clearer than that…and the merchant claims to be a collective of growers, 100% kiwi owned…and for my convenience, a link to the organisation’s website has also been provided.  Here it is…Kiwi Growers Direct

Naturally, I go for a look….and immediately end up with an authenticity/credibility problem…

The composite picture shown on the website includes bananas, table grapes, pears and melons, none of which are grown in the Bay of Plenty….as well as tomatoes, artichokes and egg plants, product I can’t order from the supplier.

Guys, a good initiative, but you ought to get your marketing story straight.  I ‘shop’ with all my senses…

The Role of Fruit & Veg In Our Society

I HAD POSTED THIS CONTRIBUTION A COUPLE OF YEARS AGO…THINGS DO NOT CHANGE THOUGH.  THE CURRENT DEBATE HERE IN NEW ZEALAND ABOUT THE NEED FOR A “FOOD IN SCHOOLS” PROGRAMME IS HIGHLIGHTING THAT THE PROBLEM OF PRODUCE PRICE PERCEPTION IS ALIVE AND WELL. BUGGER.

NEAT AND TIDY PRODUCE DISPLAY

NEAT AND TIDY PRODUCE DISPLAY

 

I have discussed fresh produce pricing on a number of occasions – as those who visit here regularly will have noticed.

Well, I had an epiphany last week.  I think I have the answer to the problem of fresh produce pricing…

I was listening to the segment on National Radio where they rattle through the headlines from the New Zealand newspapers around the regions and one headline caught my ear – enough to make me look up the news item in question from the Dominion Post.

So, what are the issues again?

People need to eat fresh fruit and veg.  But the price of fresh produce is too high for people afford, so their health is at risk, according to nutritionists.

Growers need to make a living from growing and supplying fresh produce.  But the price of fresh produce is too low for them to do that, so their livelihood (and our food supply) is at risk, according to growers.

“Somebody” isn’t prepared to pay growers a high enough price for their produce and that “somebody” is being driven by the behaviour of the consumer.

So who is driving this consumer behaviour?  The influences are many and varied, ranging from the mother-in-law, the school, the mommy bloggers, the kids, nutritionists in the media, the consumer’s own perception and so on…

I’m going to stick my neck out here:

the glass ceiling for fresh produce prices exists to a large extent because people like nutritionists persist with pushing the idea that fruit & veg should be cheap!

Here’s my answer, then.

What needs to happen is that the fresh produce industry takes the nutritionists in hand and makes them understand the commercial realities of growing fruit & vegetables, so that the nutritionists’ ability to influence can be harnessed better in correctly position produce on the consumers’ plate.

Hunting & Gathering The Modern Way

We might be a fairly sophisticated lot, us humans,  but there  are some basics facts in play, which apply regardless of where we live, of our gender, our age or our occupation.  I want to focus on just one of those facts for now; namely, the fact we need to eat.  And as we , at least in the OECD countries, lead relatively charmed lives these days.  We do not even need to make time for hunting and gathering in the traditional sense in our busy schedules… we are able to just go shopping.

h-and-g-lg-1a9km9uThe places where we tend to shop for food are typically single category stores such as bakeries, butcheries, delicatessen stores, open air markets and supermarkets.  Nobody makes us favour one over the other, nobody stops us from mixing and mingling, nobody says we need to shop daily, nobody stops from just shopping fortnightly and, most certainly, nobody prevents us from placing whatever we fancy into those shopping trolleys. Naturally, there are constraints, such as the depth of our wallet, our dietary needs, distance between store and home, our mode of transport; but those factors not withstanding, life is pretty easy.  Our mind articulates a need and hey presto, we are down at the store, meeting our mind’s request.  Wouldn’t you agree that there is a far higher degree of certainty to that model than there is to the traditional style hunting & gathering lark?

So, if we are in agreement of that, why is it that not one week goes by where one or other consumer group gripes about the price we have to pay for our food?  Not shopping is not compatible with the structure of the post-industrial age we live in. Period.  The provision of shops where we can hunt & gather in a style more appropriate to today’s society is therefore a value add offer in its own right, regardless of what type of shopping experience we choose and prefer.

I would like you to think about that last sentence a bit before you read on….

Food shopping outlet price comparisons are a dime a dozen.  Everywhere.  And they all follow the same model… Supermarkets get the bash for being too expensive, green grocers tend to be cheaper but possibly lack range and discount stores sit somewhere in between.  Right?

Well, wrong.

Channel 4 in the UK published a price survey,  at the end of January 2013.  It makes for entertaining reading.

Firstly, their survey was based on three items only; “everyday fruit & vegetable items” they called them.  I can accept that description for Broccoli.  Pears are not really an everyday item and Coriander most certainly is not.

Secondly, the survey was conducted in “32 locations across the country”.  Hm, given the population density of the UK, this is certainly not representative by a long shot.

Thirdly, and here is a new aspect for us here down under, the three categories sampled were a

  • large supermarket,
  • an independent trader (greengrocer)/ local market,
  • a convenience store version of the large supermarket.

Well, this is one for the books.  The penetration rate of these shoebox supermarket mini versions is now such that they come under the spotlight of the price nazis consumer rights media.

I shall leave you to read the survey results in your own good time but, for me, the issue boils down to this:  what price is reasonable for convenience?   We will pick that theme up again in a little while.

 

 

 

 

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.

 

 

 

New Zealand Banana Politics 2013 – First Installment

fyffe 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. lrgscaleCoaster-Fyffes

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.