Selling your produce

I wonder how many farmers appreciate the work involved in selling their produce? When you walk onto a busy market floor, you’ll see agents engaged in animated debate with buyers and the whole scene looking and sounding decidedly chaotic.

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But this negotiation between salesperson and buyer could be the closing episode in a process that started the previous day or even days before. Your agent will have specific buyers for specific products, grades, sizes and more. When you communicate your delivery plans to them, this sets the wheels in motion for a sale that might be concluded a day or two after your goods have arrived. One buyer might not take all your produce, so the salesperson will phone around, speaking to buyers who are most likely to want what you have on offer.

Final price
When you’ve supplied a superior product, you can be reasonably sure that most of that consignment has been committed. But this does not mean that the laws of supply and demand are excluded. On the contrary, the final price will be decided only on the morning of the sale and will reflect the market situation. Some will say this system of taking orders is not conducive to true price formation, but it’s common practice on all the markets, and is one of the ways of ensuring that the vast quantities received from farmers move out quickly. Hence the crucial role of quality in the process.

Some argue that the smaller buyers are left out and don’t get an equal bite of the apple. This is also incorrect, because a small buyer who gets to market early and has a good relationship with a salesperson has as good a chance as any.
The problem is that the small buyer cannot move the volumes that the big guy can, and without the latter the markets cannot fulfil their role as distribution centres.

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Many components
There are many components in the ‘selling equation’ and it’s seldom as easy as a simple chat over the price and finish and klaar. The salesperson has to know the needs of buyers, and these vary from one to the other, from town to town, and from area to area. The bottom line is that market salespeople have to satisfy two clients at the same time – mission (all but) impossible – and still move the volumes entrusted to them by the farmers.

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