Friday, June 11, 2010
Travails of marketing your own produce to those who buy from a wholesaler
Sometime ago I reported in my blog about my losing the account at the Royal Colombo Golf Club, due to them not willing to accept some of my King Coconuts as they did not conform to a minimum size. The farm has been supplying the single estate King Coconuts to the club for a number of years as my father a member of the club, had been asked to supply them during the period he was actively playing.
Recently I was approached again by the Club to supply them with King Coconuts, and I duly arrived this morning with the order of 200. (uneconomical really to supply such a small quantity on a special journey from the farm, but due to the prevailing rains demand from the club is also low so I was willing in the interests of a relationship to supply this small quantity, despite having told the person who contacted me regarding a renewed order that I need a minimum order of 250)
The new rules set in motion by the Club Captain and the committee running the club is for a chef from the kitchen to check the quality control upon delivery, and this chap said that he would be hauled over the coals by his superiors for ordering some of the nuts owing to their size. The same issue I fell out with back then!!!
I had to tell them firmly that they choose between single estate Thambili and those they can get a supplier in Colombo to deliver, bought wholesale from the Pettah market where they choose the bunches they deliver according to size, not knowing from where or date of plucking. I was able to pluck nuts to order, as I have to cut according to a row of trees where in some sections the nuts are smaller than others, and vary in size from tree to tree. It is also a fact that sometimes smaller nuts have more King Coconut water than the larger nuts, and so size bears no relationship to quality and volume. As I only plucked the nuts to fill the club order, either I sell it to them or just throw it away, as I do not have the time to go at short notice to find buyers for the balance, especially on a rainy and cloudy day like today.
While the chef is just doing his job, frightened of the bosses, they have either to make an exception to their size rule if they want my Thambili, knowing it is plucked the previous day just for them or buy from a trader who sells other people’s produce. It is their choice as it is beyond my control to conform to their specifications. They decided to accept the order today but that may be the first and last I deliver to this club!!! Watch this space for updates to the latest saga of the farmer and his produce dealing with systems and procedures that are not compatible with his method and means of supply. I pluck fresh coconuts to my home delivery customers in the same way as the sizes vary from tree to tree.