WATTIES STAND FAST
Growers’ costs are still tending to rise, and the net return from their crops has declined, if anything, over the past few seasons. This trend is general whether the produce be wool, butterfat, fruit or marketed vegetables. In some cases, too, the returns for vegetables produced for processors has been reduced by one or two ﬁrms.
This Company has been approached both last year and again recently, in an effort to lower our prices to the growers for freezing quality peas, broad beans and tomatoes. We are standing ﬁrm, and are now tentatively booking areas as far as our known requirements will permit, at the same prices as last year.
We trust you, our grower friends, appreciate this fact. You know, at least, that with Wattie’s you have a solid, reliable market for your produce which does not vary to any extent from year to year.
With production costs rising, an increase would be more in line than a decrease – for you, and for us. However, we know you appreciate the full situation. Although your costs have risen, ours have risen even more, with items such as transport costs, to name just one, affecting us to a greater extent than it does a grower. With our production level rising over the years, and methods in factory technique improving all the time, we have been able to absorb rising costs to a certain extent. This is certainly no time for any of us to embark upon price rises; we will do well to hold the present line.
Growers have long been able to look ahead and develop cropping projects with the comforting knowledge that the market for their crops handled by J Wattie Canneries is fairly managed, and is assured and consistent.
GROWER COMPETITION KEEN.
As we have stated on previous occasions, we are constantly turning away would-be growers for many of our crops. We are therefore in the happy position to issue contracts to growers who can constantly supply the best quality to the factory. We do not like to chop and change, and our growers’ lists reveal that any change has been very small and gradual. We try to be absolutely impartial and give all our growers the same consideration. However, we must consider certain factors such as distance from the factory in the case of peas, suitable soils, the grower’s equipment and so on. We would not accept a tomato contract, for instance, unless we knew that the grower was able to spray them effectively.
Quality is a watchword becoming more important all the time. Most of our growers know that we keep a record of the condition of each load of produce received. If the quality is consistently poor in spite of the fact being pointed out at the time, then this must be taken into consideration when new contracts are made for the following year.
THE GROWER’S PART.
With the general reduction in prices to the producer of primary produce in New Zealand, there seems little likelihood of an increase in price in the immediate future for any fruit or vegetables supplied to processors. It is up to the grower, then, to endeavour to reduce his costs, as this factory has had to do. This is very easy to say, but not so easy to carry out. Nevertheless, our ﬁeld men in their travels often notice unnecessary expenditure that could be avoided.
One of the greatest single expenditures for certain crops such as beans, tomatoes and fruit is the harvesting costs. Much of this work is done by contract gangs who over the years have gained a hold on the growers which is now difﬁcult to control. Contract prices have crept up over the years, plus demands for free transport, tax payment, petrol allowance, gangers’ allowance and so on. At times of labour shortage growers have been held at ransom, and once they give in to an increase, it is most difﬁcult to reduce prices again. Surely a contract worker must realise that he cannot make high wages every day of the season. He must be prepared to work for less at certain periods, knowing that at other times he will make more than a working wage, thus balancing out well over the season.