The Frozen Meat Industry.
Mataura Ensign, Volume 17, 14 June 1895, Page 6
The Frozen Meat Industry.
THE BEST TIME OF THE TEAR TO SHIP HOME. ! A CAUSE OF THS GLUTS IN THE HOME MARKETS. At laßt meeting of the Gore Farmers' Club, held on the Ist inst., during the discussion that ensued over the frozen me»t trade, the Chairman (Mr John McQueen), speaking " as one very much interested in the frozen meat industry, remarked that " with the cold stores in London so often glutted they mnst expeot low prices. The mistake was that they depended too much on the London trade, while centres like Glasgow and Liverpool were ignored. ..." lay with the breeders themselves whether they sent more or less sheep to London, and thus they could to an extent regulate the prices. He advocated storing in New Zealand, especially at such vantage points as Mataura, with its vast motive power going to waste, 1 SftThat Mr McQueen's arguments were pregnant with reason, may be deduced by a perusal of the following quotation, which comprises the introductory paragraph in a " Review of the Frozen Meat Trade for 1894," published by Meßßrs "W. Weddel and Co., of London, the famous colonial produce agents :-— The closing year has been one of general disappointment to moat of those concerned in the frozen meat trade, the irregular despatch and arrival of steamers having upaet the plans and calculations of producers and consumers alike. The early part of the year witnessed a steady reduction in the heavy Btock held over from J893, and at the and of March there were practically no supplies in warehouse in London. The summer and autumn months, however, were noteworthy for abnormally large importations, and the consequent glut in the market. The Londou stores remained blocked for months, causing the detention of some vessels on demurrage while others were hired from time to time to act aa stores. The retail trade throughout was was slaok, and, for the grea'er part of the year, buyers were masters of the situation. Under such conditions prices were bound to be irregular. The level of values in the first quarter wag, generally speaking, satisfactory, but thia was owing entirely to the temporary shortage caused by the lata arrival of Hew Zaaiand shipment?. The scarcity in the spring checked tha trade, and when heavier shipments poured into London they met a dragging sale on a falling maiket, The las six months were characterised by an averag* of quotations lower than any recorded since the beginning of the trade in frozen meatse prices touching their lowest iv November^ Since then -values have recovered m a some what irregular fashion, the year closing with fall stocks in London, but only light shipments afloat. Here, then, we have Mr McQueen's assertion " with the cold stores iv London so often glutted, they must expect low pricas " backed up with interest by Messrs Weddel and Co.'s more pronounced iteration that on account of the "abnormally larga importations, and the consequent glut in the market .for the greater part of the year, buyers were masters of th« situation. . . , Heavier ship men t8 . . . met a dragging sale on a falling market." The logic of this unsatisfactory state of affairs, demands that greater circumspection be used in the despatch of the meat cargoes. What, then, is the beat time for our frozen meat shipments to arrive at Home, in order to ensure the maximum of possibility of tapping the market at the right moment ? We are materially helped in arriving at this conclusion by a persual of an elaborate chart, a "table showing fluctuations in valua of «ioi«| n»a» during the past six years (1889 to 1894)" compiled by Messrs W. Weddel and Co. By this chart one is able to tell at a glance how the prices rose and fell during every month of the •Biz years named ; and it *°*« »»° that excepting the first year (1889)^ for five yeaw in suceession— lo9U to ■*»»* -the highest prices for both New Zealand mutton and lamb were obtained in the latter part of Velruary and the beginning of March, a period extendicg over about four weeks. This is an important consideration, one that should not be lost sight by'our Southland breeders; and tor their benefit we beg to submit the following ideas a* to how they could bast catch the February-March market :-- In order to ensure a successful early lambing in Southland — daring the latter end of July and throughout Aueuat— care should be taken to have plenty of natural cover for the ewes, with' artificial shelter where necessary. Lambs dropped thus early could be got ready for killing, faring, and shipping by January, winch should give the necessary time in order to catch the February-March s*les at Home. But as it would never do to time all the breeding ev.es to lamb early, a late lambing should also be arranged— for November — which would permit of the lamba being ready for the freezing chamber in the following June. And nere does the strength of Mr McQueen s advocacy—" Storing in New Zealand, especially at such vantage points as Mataura, with its vast motive power going to waste "—become apparent. Late lambs ready for freezing in June, could be stored in freezing chambers in the colony at a nominal cost until the following January, when they could be despatched Home to catch the February- March sales. In support of our arguments that the storage should be done at thia end, we will again refer to Mr Weddel'a opinion on the subject :— The question of cold storage accommodation in London, had an unusual •mjntrf attention directed to it in 1894. Although on 25th March, stocks of New Zealand mutton in London were reduced to nil, during the larger half of the year the various stores were unequal to tho task of accommodating the shipments arriving from Australia and New Zealand ; and a*, different intervals six or seven steamers and one Bailing vessel were put into commission as freezing stores -a purpnse to which they are but ill-adapted considering the cost involved. The difficulty of maintaining prices will be permanently increased if so much stock of a perishable nature is held in store at the place where sales have to be made, as the principal buyers here are at all times well informed as to the position of stocks in the London stores. If large reserves must be held from time to time, there can be no doubt that values would bo strengthened all round, provided it could be arranged to hold such reserves in store in the colonies until
required for shipment. There would then be some likelihood of despatching steamers at stated intervale throughout tha year. The advantages likely to accrue to shippers through the consequent steadying of the London market, and the probability of securing better terms for freight, if regularity of despatch could ba guaranteed, would probably outweigh in a year or two tho cost of erecting additional storage accommodation at the various freezing works in Hew Zealand and Australia The year 1894 has been characterise i by unusual and most undesirable irregularity in the arrival of supplies. The erratic movement of steamers on the Dew Zaaland and Australian coaßts, and consequent uncertain departures, caused, directly and undireotly, serious losses to the owners of meat cargoes. Th 9 successful conduct of the industry was subordinated to the convenience or necessities of shipowners, instead of the raov?ment of the vessel being dictated and regulated by the requirements of tin trade. No serious combined attempt appears yet to have been made to remedy this anomalous stats of affairß, and for lack of some concerted action as to sai'ing dates from the colonies, shipjwners sh well as shippers seem likely to continue to lose money which might posßibly be saved. If the erection of additional storage accomodation at the varions freezing :works, as well as, or even in preference to, a large increase in London, could be arranged so as to allow of regular sailings througnout the year, a vaat saving might be looked for in respect of detention of steamers iv tho colony, demurrage in London through sales being blocked, and consequent all-round depreciation in value. The waßte under the existing system is difficult to estimite, but it must be a very considerable item ; and it seems only reasonable to aßSume that the saving likely to be effected by prices being supported at thia end would soon pay for the erection of additional colonial storage. We think we have said enough on this matter to show that it is one well worthy the attention of those mo3t interested in the success of the frozen meat trade.