Communication is essential

The huge distances between producers and markets. Perishable products. Tough competition. The lack of understanding of markets and marketing by many producers.

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The fact that producers send their products to a market to be sold on their behalf by another person. The fact that farmers in SA have 20 markets and about 100 registered market agencies from which to choose. These and other factors emphasise the need for good communication between the farmer and the market agent.

Some farmers don’t listen to their agents and send in too much product when a market is full. This leads to lower prices, perhaps even the discarding of a portion of the consignment – and, inevitably, an unhappy producer. Alternatively, an irresponsible agent will ignore the supply conditions and entice farmers to send to the market. This usually only benefits the agent, who earns commission regardless of the price.

Some farmers don’t appreciate that some products can only be supplied in limited quantities on a particular market because the demand is simply not there. Sending just ‘a little bit extra’ could find the market ‘oversupplied’ and prices taking a dip, while on another market that same product will ‘fly’. Producers need to be guided by their agent when it comes to requirements such as quantities, packaging and quality.

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The key is communication, with producer and agent keeping in close contact with each other. Discussions between the two should cover marketing the product and not just the price. There should be forward planning and flexibility to maximise options. By staying closely in touch with each other, both ensure good service and optimum results for any given set of circumstances. Most importantly, when things go wrong, as they inevitably do, good communication will lead to a successful resolution. And remember – good communication isn’t just about talking, it’s also about listening!

Contact Mike Cordes at [email protected]. Please state ‘Market floor’ in the subject line of your email.