Turners & Growers – Timeline Fog Lifts Further

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In April 1970, thirty-three years ago, Foodtown was heading for its 12th store in Auckland, Birkenhead.  Once again, the supermarket chain suggested to Turners & Growers that there might be merit in working together to achieve direct fruit and vegetable deliveries from growers to a Foodtown warehouse for distribution to individual stores.  Jack Turner, who by then had succeeded Sir Harvey Turner as Managing Director felt that “any agreement to arrange direct supplies from growers would be against the wishes of growers…” (Stead, K. One Hundred I’m bid. A Centennial History of Turners & Growers, 1997. ISBN 0473 04169 3. Kestrel Publishing)

The T& G board advised Foodtown that “it was not prepared to agree to its proposal as the board was convinced it would be contrary to the interests of growers, consumers, retailers in general and the company”. (Ibid).

Foodtown responded “that it would continue to try to get whatever fruit and vegetables it could directly from growers themselves.” (Ibid)

And so the battle lines were drawn.

On one hand, the traditional produce wholesale company which had by then successfully been in business for half a century.  In the opposite corner, a business which had barely started a dozen years earlier and already threatened to disturb the industry fabric. Judged from a given point in time in, say 1970, one can understand the Turners & Growers perspective.  The system was working.  It was not broken.  Therefore no need to fix it.

From the supermarket’s point of view though, the system was already beginning to fray at the edges.  Getting produce to twelve stores every morning came with its challenges and being able to take possession of that produce the night before would have been a lot easier as the auction process itself was not very efficient.  Here is a description from the Auckland Fruiterers Association site.

Foodtown therefore quietly continued to build a core group of growers prepared to deliver some produce direct whilst maintaining a daily presence at the auction markets.

to be continued

 

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