Don’t forget to pay Freshmark Systems

Almost every fresh produce market in South Africa has a licensing agreement with Freshmark Systems, the providers of the industry’s dedicated IT-based sales processing system.

Mike Cordes - Market Floor

In operation since 1987, the system is unique, and provides market agents and producers with comprehensive and highly functional daily sales data.

While each market is responsible for the daily management of the system, it pays Freshmark Systems a fee for backup and service.

Naturally, Freshmark is a business, not a charity, and requires this money to continue offering its services.

So what happens when a market authority does not pay its fee to Freshmark?

This is not a silly, hypothetical question. It has already happened on more than one market and has recently taken on disturbing proportions, with a few markets seriously in arrears.

Must Freshmark Systems continue to ‘carry’ these markets? Or is it entitled to run out of patience – having followed every possible route to secure payment – and simply ‘pull the plug’?

A committed company
Having spoken to the management at Freshmark Systems, I’ve come to realise that the company is acutely aware of its responsibility towards market agents and producers. Hence, the problem it has of an outstanding debtor’s book of well over R2 million! The problem, though, is that no business can ignore a drain like that on its resources.

Potential collapse of all admin functions
If Freshmark Systems is reluctantly driven to exercise its rights and pull the plug, the consequences will be disastrous. The administration function of market agencies will collapse and they will lose their records of sales, payments and much more. Now imagine the reaction of farmers! I shudder thinking about it all.

Instead of wallowing in their bureaucratic inertia, the guilty markets must find the money – now!

Michael Cordes is an agricultural journalist, consultant, trainer and former farmer.