Is this wave unstoppable?

A wave of rejuvenation and new commitment is sweeping all before it as role players in the sector take on the most serious challenges currently faced by South Africa’s fresh produce markets.

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Cynical readers might scoff and say they’ve heard it all before. But I say: “No.” In all the years that I’ve been involved with the fresh produce markets I’ve never witnessed anything like this. The problems might be the same old ones, with a few new ones tossed in for good measure, but real progress is being made in fixing them. Furthermore, despite negative propaganda from some sources, producers aren’t ‘anti-market’. Many do use other outlets, and that’s not only their right but also good marketing.

A mistake
However, the mistake some make is to eliminate the markets from their marketing strategy altogether, which is not good marketing. What’s more, producers are now telling the markets sector, “Get your house in order, because we want to support you, but you’ll have to do some serious repairs before we commit our crops to your care.”

This shows that many producers are realising that the commission sales system remains the truest form of price discovery and open trading in the country. And they’re right to insist that markets must pull themselves together if they want their support. And yes, the commission sales system might have a few warts, but those are being taken care of. In time – unfortunately most of the required remedies take time – the commission system will again be recognised for the crucial role it plays in the agriculture sector.

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A new approach
Market owners – municipal and others – are also seeing the benefits of having good markets. Many are already riding the unstoppable wave, and others will join them in the months ahead as markets ‘repair’ themselves. Market agents are also on their surfboards. Many are realising that times have changed and they will need to do so as well. A new, fresh approach to their clients and the environment around them can be witnessed daily.

This wave is clearly not going to stop.

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