Farmer's Weekly (South Africa)

On the market fl oor


There is no shortage of challenges in the fresh-produce trade. Farmers, retailers and other role players in the industry continuall­y have to decide how to tackle these, and whether they can be used as opportunit­ies.

From a marketing perspectiv­e, a challenge could be one of many: is it a distributi­on problem? Is handling the culprit? Are storage conditions inadequate? Whatever the case, a solution will be needed, and often urgently. And this applies regardless of the scale of the problem.


In March, the gigantic container ship Ever Given became stuck in the Suez Canal for six days, blocking the passage of more than 400 vessels.

Consider a ship stuck on the Mediterran­ean side, carrying fresh fruit destined for the Far East. What is the owner meant to do?

Even under ideal storage conditions, fruit cannot last forever, so waiting for the canal to be cleared might not be an option.

To turn around and sail via the Cape would add enormous cost and roughly two weeks’ worth of extra sailing time. Impatient buyers in the

Far East might decide to source fruit from another supplier, leaving the exporters with an added challenge.

Finding a buyer in Europe or the UK at the last moment might be an option. But that may be extremely difficult to do. Or will it provide an opportunit­y to rescue the situation and still turn a profit?


At the other end of the scale lies a local farmer who may have just been advised by the market agent that the last batch of produce was not up to standard and will have to be sold at a reduced price.

It might sound like a disaster, but the wise farmer will see it as an opportunit­y to ask some tough questions. Where did I fall short? How can I improve my production, packing and marketing?

Challenges can lead to opportunit­ies to do better and boost profits.

Michael Cordes is an agricultur­al journalist, consultant, trainer and former farmer. Email him at farmerswee­ Subject line: Market floor.


Newspapers in English

Newspapers from South Africa