Yet it’s amazing how many producers get it right and supply excellent fruit and vegetables. Those who don’t meet these standards end up getting lower prices. This is one of the realities of the market that some farmers still don’t seem to understand; deliver inferior quality produce, and the market will ‘punish’ you with low prices. But quality is also subjective. A superb Class 1 baby potato used for potjiekos isn’t going to get much of a rating from a buyer who makes chips and wants extra-large potatoes.
Grading standards for fruit and vegetables goes a long way towards reducing this ‘subjectivity factor’. If a product is graded
Class 1, then it conforms to certain specifications that everyone understands. And as everyone knows, Class 1 products generally fetch higher prices. I say ‘generally’ because there are instances where the unexpected can become the norm.
This is one of those anomalies in the system.
Buyers know that, in some cases, a Class 2 product from XYZ brand will perform as well as, if not better than, Class 1s from other brands. Quality and brand are key here. If buyers trust a brand, they will be more than happy to pay extra for it, even when it’s Class 2. Quality is also key to moving stock off the market floor when there is an oversupply. When prices are rock-bottom, buyers overstocked, salespeople agonising over getting the next sale and farmers fuming, that’s when recognised quality comes to the fore.
In these situations, a top quality product will still sell – not at a premium, perhaps, but at least at a price that gives something back to the producer. Conversely, inferior quality products lie on the floor until they are picked up for next to
nothing by a ‘sweeper’ – a buyer who takes only the cheapest products – or are condemned by a health inspector. Not a happy ending for the producer.
The bottom line? Quality sells!