Tag: I’ve been thinking
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.
The 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?
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.
Posted: April 7th, 2013 under Consumer, Supermarkets- the other stuff, Thoughtpieces, value-add.
Tags: Consumer, equilibrium, I've been thinking
Who doesn’t remember this Johnny Cash Classic?
There has been a bit of hype in the media over the last few days in relation to Turners & Growers CEO Geoff Hipkins. Is he there or is he not? What exactly happened in Berlin? What is the T&G board going to do about it?
Let me try to make some sense out of this from my perspective. And, by the way, I have two perspectives here – as an industry commentator and as a T&G shareholder…
As an industry commentator I have to say that reputable publications such as fruit net do not run stories for purely speculative reasons. So where there is smoke, there is also going to be fire. The produce industry is a people industry. We don’t always agree with each other and we are often found taking diametrically opposed positions, but at the end of the day, the industry functions because of common courtesy and respect being the fundamental pillars upon which business relationships are built. And when these pillars start to crumble, business suffers.
Respect goes beyond today and reaches into the past…Respect for accumulated knowledge, respect for institutional memory, respect for lessons learned from past mistakes, respect for an in-depth understanding on how the produce industry works. It seems that there might be room for improvement in this department if the ENZA Gold growers are to be believed.
As a T&G shareholder, I am a little disturbed to see the losses mounting, key staff disappearing, not so well thought through import deals causing disturbance in the market place and I am sure others share these concerns as well.
The cryptic message to the New Zealand Stock Exchange on the matter of recent media speculation therefore only adds fuel to the fire. It does not calm the waves.
Which brings me back to Johnny Cash. How high will the water need to rise?
Posted: March 11th, 2013 under Industry Politics, Observations.
Tags: I've been thinking, Turners & Growers
Eyeing The Fruit Stand
John George Brown
Now I have heard it all. To save me repeating myself, readers should start by checking out this link on the NZ Herald website before reading on. Go on, do it now!
Here we have a scallywag who thinks it is ok to wander into a New Plymouth supermarket and start eating the food on display, which happens to have been nectarines, on the basis that he had no money to pay for them. The court case was heard in Kaitaia and defence counsel claimed that her client had been living on the streets of Gisborne.
The first thing that comes to mind is that its a long way between New Plymouth, Kaitaia and Gisborne. Several hundred kilometres in fact. And to cover this distance one needs money…. But we don’t have the money to pay for a nectarine? The second thought is – do our courts really have nothing better to do than prosecute a young layabout who helped himself to one piece of fruit? Court costs, judge’s salary, defence counsel’s fees, the mind boggles. The third tought – there is a whole social argument hidden here in the trenches. We are mammals which need to eat when we are hungry and drink when we are thirsty, otherwise we die. Yet our societal structure has evolved to the extent that we actually need this artificial invention called money that drives the concept called trade in order to provide sustenance for ourselves. Have we gone too far? And lastly – back to the commercial reality we are a part of, like it or not – what does the produce industry have to do to get consumers, including judges, to understand the true value of fruit? $1.25 in reparation is quite ridiculous from that perspective. All it will do is drive the message home that fruit is of very little value and its ok to help yourself. I wonder what the sentence would have been if Master Casford had opened a can of Coke instead?
Posted: February 14th, 2013 under Consumer, Observations, Produce, Summerfruit.
Tags: I've been thinking, supermarket
The problem with a site like Facebook is that one can’t really control what ends up being displayed on one’s site – one’s ‘friends’ can have a devastating influence on the state of one’s page. I was therefore delighted that this doodle “turned up” today. How apt. I am sure you can all relate to it. I certainly can! From a business perspective, the “How Do I Do It?” is the most important step on the scale.
Once I get to the point of asking THAT question, I have accepted that the journey needs to to go into the indicated direction. And IF one spends enough quality time getting the answers to the HOW question lined up, one’s chance of being able to dance on the table top in celebration at the end of the journey, will have exponentially increased.
Unfortunately, one doesn’t get beyond Step 2 too often – “I Can’t Do It”. So How does one get from Step 2 to Step 4? “I Want To Do It” is certainly part of the answer, but is it enough? Not by a long shot I am afraid! How about “I Believe in Myself?” Isn’t that also part of it? Taking ownership of the problem?
Equally applicable to solving produce industry related problems as it is to solving one’s own life situations. Wouldn’t it be great if one could increase the amount of time one gets to dance on top of the table by a factor of ten in 2013?
Posted: February 4th, 2013 under Thoughtpieces.
Tags: I've been thinking
The Melbourne Age reported on 7th January that 700 Australian 2012 agriculture graduates have the luxury of choosing from 4,000 graduate entry level positions, i.e. demand outstripping supply more than just a little…
Where have we heard that before?
The Left Right Think Tank, according to The Age, feels that agriculture has an image problem amogst young people. (Well, they are all under 25 in that organisation, so they ought to know…) Dead right, so how are we going to solve that issue? By making farming and horticulture Monday to Friday, 9-5, type occupations? And finding ways to avoid getting one’s hands dirty? Not really feasible is it?
The whole concept of food production, though, is due for a major overhaul. The Dutch – who are never backward in coming forward – are now talking about factory farming, as building these enormous glasshouse complexes they are so apt at plonking into the landscape are simply getting too expensive a construction project to contemplate! And what are the Dutch minds focusing on? Empty and disused office buildings for one….as more Dutch people than ever are working from home and office complexes are sitting idle and unproductive – something our Dutch colleagues cannot tolerate at the best of times. Time for some mental cultivation then?
Posted: January 30th, 2013 under innovation, Labour Resource, Observations, Produce Buildings.
Tags: I've been thinking, innovation, Netherlands