Tag: merchandise

Ebony & Ivory Living In Perfect Harmony

allpakTwo empty wooden boxes, which have clearly seen better days, loitering in serene harmony on the pavement outside a street cafe on State Highway 1.  Thousands of cars pass by each day and pay no attention to these remnants from a by-gone era.  Pedestrians deposit rubbish into the black bags encapsulated by these very roughly  nailed together bits of timber.  Could we have seen these boxes on the same spot yesterday?  Probably.  Are they likely to be there again tomorrow?  More than likely.

Are they worth a second thought?  Why is one of them yellow and the other one green?  Why are there faded letters visible on the green one, spelling the word ‘ALPACK’? How old are they? What was there original use?

And by now readers will be asking why SAUERKRAUT is getting so excited about a couple of old wooden boxes he nearly tripped over, rounding the corner in Tirau on a sunny Sunday’s afternoon.  Those blog afficionados with a little history in the produce industry will, just like I did, spot the irony of those two unlikely mates leading a peaceful co-existence.  And if  you are interested in understanding what functions these boxes used to have and what this had to do with the produce industry, please start with having a look at this document.  Written only ten years ago but a life time away.



Who Gets To Drive The Produce Bus?

What comes to your mind when you see a vehicle like this?  Brightly coloured, two front bits and no rear end, a re-engineered middle and a ruddy great banana on the top of the roof?

I don’t know about you, but what comes to my mind is that this very cleverly put together promotional vehicle reflects the state of our produce retail  industry.

The two front bits represent respectively the supermarkets – Foodstuffs (New World, Pak N’ Save) at one end and Progressive (Countdown/Wooolworths/Foodtown)  at the other.  The ‘bit in the middle’ is the rest of the retail industry – the urban green grocers, the fruit shops at the edge of town, the gate sellers, the farmers markets, the opportunitists at the roadside selling produce from their vans, the office fruit bowl stockists and the internet ‘box of stuff’ vendors.

There are several questions that play on my mind in connection with this state of the retail industry:

  • How big are the two front bits, i.e., the supermarket produce share, really?
  • What is a realistic level for the supermarket share of produce sales before it disturbs the industry value chain equilibrium?
  • To what extent is ‘the middle bit’ dependent upon the two ‘engine drivers’ for its well being as opposed to being in control of its own destiny?
  • How will the local New Zealand model be impacted by international trends in the next five years?

Let me start with this observation.

Fruit and vegetable ranges stocked in supermarkets are continuing to reduce, driven by item based shrink and profit consideration at both merchandise and buying office level. Buyers and category managers whose performance is judged by the profitability of narrow product categories are not prepared to gamble by stocking niche products.  Store staff with insufficient training are not best placed to sell non-mainstream produce.  So if I am looking for whitloof, fennel and red currants, I know that I will not find those in the supermarkets.

This thread will be continued over the next few weeks and comments are as always welcome.

Literature, Trout Fishing & Fresh Food Departments

I bought a book the other day. There is nothing surprising in that as I buy quite a few. The book’s title, “How to catch a fish”, should also not raise any eyebrows. I do enjoy trout fishing and catching a “fish” in this instance means trout.

What is fascinating though is the author’s approach. Kevin Ireland is no mug. He is one of New Zealand’s most acclaimed writers and has published four novels, two memoirs and fifteen volumes of poetry. He also likes trout fishing and has taken a very methodical approach in his book. Izaak Walton, the 17th century English author revered in trout literati circles, wrote in the Compleat Angler that “… fishing was employment for his idle time… that was not idly spent… a rest to his mind, a diverter of sadness, a moderator of passions… a procurer of contentedness; and that it begat habits of peace and patience in those that professed and practiced it.”
Read more »