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.


Rajaratarala said...

Update on June 17th 2010. Tomorrow has suddenly been declared a holiday on account of War Heroes Day. Announcement coming in at noon. So I called the Golf Club on how many King Coconuts to supply as it would mean a long weekend and a lot of golf if the weather holds.

I was told they will chek with the chef who had asked for 75. In the past I have never delivered less than 250 on Fridays and at long weekends they have usually asked for more.

So I said it was not worth my while plucking at short notice just 75, and then driving all the way to the Club from the Farm, barely recovering the cost of the diesel.

I was then able to contact the Bar secretary and explain the position and we decided on a compromise of 150. Does that mean there is no more King coconuts drunk at the 10th hole? as just that amount gets drunk when the club is full.

There is something seriously wrong in the club on the serving of King Coconuts, one of the most thirst quenching and nutritious natural drinks on the face of the earth.

I need to give them a lesson in serving this drink. It can be served chilled, with a slice of lime which the member could choose to squeeze into the drink or just plain from the nut.

The discussion was more on the size of the nut and the size of the glass, and how a nut must have enough water to fill a glass. What kind of world are the members in? and the people who choose to serve this drink. Surely this is a hospitality industry not a measuring class!!!

Sometimes I wonder why I bother to even do this job when I am doing it for the product, freshness, uniqueness and style and not for money. It says a lot about the moneyed classes in Sri Lanka who drive in a Rs10M vehicle to the club and quibble about the size of a Rs60 completely natural drink. How much does a tall lime juice cost? how much water is in there?

Watch for more hilarious updates of our Colombo Golf Club members and their antics.

magerata said...

Hope you are well, get back to blogging! We are thirsty for your information from the farms, life and dogs, yes chillies too

George said...


Hope you are well. Concerned at your silence.

thekillromeoproject said...

Miss reading you blog updates. Hope everything is well with you. Hope to see some news of the farm soon.

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