The 10 commandments of fruit marketing

I came across one of my previous columns (Farmer’s Weekly March 2002), and make no apology for repeating it, because it is sound advice that applies to all fresh produce.

 The document on which this is based was originally given to me by Christo Botha of Capespan and I have substituted the word “fruit” for “citrus”. The following “10 commandments of fruit marketing” should be read by every grower, packer and marketer each morning:

Good markets exist only where demand precedes supply. Therefore, build demand for your fruit. Teach your customers the merits of fruit, for only fools buy that for which they know no use. Education costs only cents per carton, but the price of ignorance is measured in rands.

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A thousand growers shall not attempt to sell their fruit to seven buyers; for verily, the growers will cut each other’s prices to pieces and the buyers will wink and laugh. On the other hand, seven sellers and seven buyers make a firm market and fatten the wallets of all.

He who sells by under-cutting his neighbour’s price has thrown a boomerang that will return to smite him. Why? Because his neighbour shall cut his price in turn. The seller of a million cartons attracts the hard-cash buyers, while the pushcart pedlar must hunt the back street alleys for a bad-cheque customer. Growers, ignore the cost and don’t hesitate to hire salespeople, for the amateur can’t compete equally with the professional. And the buyers of fruit today are surely professionals.

Offer your produce to many cities, for fruits grow only in certain spots of this terrestrial ball, but the people of all nations hunger for fruit. Strive mightily for a stable market, because therein the merchant buys tomorrow’s needs freely and in confidence. However, when the price-cutters enter, the merchant withholds buying lest his competitor buys cheaper, or tomorrow’s fruit price be lower. And so the unsold fruit piles up.

An honest grade is a delight to all merchants and brings re-orders, but a deceitful or sloppy pack induces wrath and rejection. Forget not that the eye controls the purse strings; that bruises are repulsive and poor fruit looks shabby; and that your fruit must sell itself alongside 70 other different fruits and vegetables.

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