Fresh Produce industry – more competitive

In the fresh produce business today, competition among role players has risen to unprecedented levels as individuals and companies all vie for a share of the proverbial pie.

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This is good because competition keeps everyone on their toes and leads to improvements all round. I maintain there’s no place more competitive than a fresh produce market floor. You need only walk through a busy market to appreciate this. Market agencies are all trading under one roof. Competing agencies can see what stock each has, which buyers are moving in and out and what’s been sold. They can even hear each other when levels of excitement rise to fever pitch on occasion. This is a tough trading environment, which requires salespeople to ‘think on their feet’. A slip can quickly lead to a lost sale.

Trading within the confines of a market sales hall has the benefit of creating demand by concentrating sellers and buyers under one roof. This, in turn, leads to fair price determination based on supply, demand and quality. Obviously, the more buyers that compete for the same products, the closer the price is to true ‘market value’.

However, to attract the buyers, a market needs a wide variety of products. This is another attraction of a good market – it offers the buyer a ‘one-stop shop’. Our larger markets get this right most of the time, which is one of the reasons for Johannesburg Market’s dominance, not only as a source for all manner of fresh produce, but as the price barometer of the country. Seen from a competition perspective, this is good for Johannesburg, but not for the smaller markets, which cannot always attract the range of products they would like.

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Smaller markets
Despite this, smaller markets still manage to perform remarkably well. Competition means that they have to work harder to produce comparable or better results than Johannesburg. And they often do this, which is why a producer should never dismiss a smaller market. Such a market can be an attractive option if handled correctly – in other words, if the producer works closely with the market agent to ensure the right quantities of the right quality at the right times.