WHY PRICES ARE EXORBITANT
Maoriland Worker, Volume 19, Issue 411, 22 January 1919, Page 4
WHY PRICES ARE EXORBITANT
List 'veefc * r«*»il ffuit a«3 viik'-' taMfc toU&r of Wfellijifctbii called ii&6la Uβ afco* unburaeaea his iai&ci t&fe subject of the methods of auctibneirs a»d a&e-rc&aatE at tie Veliiegtoa fruit Uarketß. f hfe talfe lie M4 to tell ie of isaitlett•lar lirteftafel #6*4 jfNrit fcas »,Udgether vaale-bed from the table's of those not ble&sed with incomes of £4 <>r £5 BBti over weekly. Our visitor asserted ta&t there is a great 4o»« t6 tfe-rdugh i,uctiO*eerE xtaStily hoiaiH* 6n periefaabie gnaws tvitb tht obj*et of forcing tip prices, there tea further smaller lo«s throuih dishonest people who attend the markets and pilfer. The four principal firms employ between the-tti tiifae auctioneers, and the fees received by the city for tlieif licenses total £360. Tbefee nine auctioneers arc accused Of . ROBBING THE PEOPLE year by year of thousands of pounds, directly. ot ; .indirectly. All the fruit aid vegetables seat into the inar-ket could be easily sold by four aAictioa- the seHiag wa« legitimate a&d to t&e aigbeet bidder. At |>re«6at it aftpears that ibueJi of tee .produce sent into the Market i» £ot teat for tie purpose of bfeiag *o4ia by auction. What is baaly -waatfea ie tiat an inspector should attend tjhe fiia-fftet and insist that the a-uctioaeers -sell according to the t&ri&s bf their license. When goods are sold legitimately, now, it is a-lmost certain tbey are half rotten, or Will be within * day or two. This is what ■frequently Uappfe»e: A Hutt grower brings in forty *acks of cabbages. He splits them up amongst the four ptisicipal firms, s,ay ten saefcs each. No. 1 auctioneer gets up to sell, and, maybe, realises 7/- ,pet sabk. TJaen auctioneer No. 2 gets up and fiads be ca # n only sell at 6A per «ack. Does Jie sell? Oh, JiO! He leaves off cabbages tne remark: "No. 1 got 7/-; these are the same man's stuff; you can either pay 7/- or leave them where they are." TJie auctioneer takes every advantage of RACIAL ANTIPATHY, and "works" the Chinaman agateet the white man. It may be asfced how Is it the Chinaman generally has a better show than the white man, remains longer in the business and very seldom goes bankrupt? The reason is 'he is given a preference over the white man by the auctioneers. The w&ite man knows (sometimes) wben tffe auctioneer is rooking him aad voices his opinion of the robbery; on the other hand, high' prices do aot hurt the Chinese retailer so muca-as. the waite retailer from the fact tfcat the Chinamen are also, more or less, interested in the raising of vegetables, and gain from the high prices, even if their retail profits are at a ntftti* mum. 4 The Chinamen who have gone on the land to raise fruit and vegetables knew they could get plenty of Chinese labor at wages far under those required by white men. The por sition at present is that high prices are ruinous to the white retailer. His struggle to obtain those prices in order to keep his business going very rarely brings him more income of £3 for over,sixty hours' work per week. He is really working to make fruit and vegetable growers (Chinese and others), auctioneers andy merchants wealthy. DOUBTFUL SCALES, A further complaint is that the scales at the market "have to pay for themselves." To illustrate this we were told that some little time ago a dispute axose as to the weight of a ham. On some big scales at the market it weighed 161b, on another and smaller eet. of scales it weighed 15ilb, while on a special set of scales kept in an officeat the market it only weighed-yUlb 1202! Bad as the position is in Wellington, it is even worse, so far as the consumer is concerned, in those districts where the Chinese retailers have obtained a complete monopoly. In Levin, where this is the case, the following were the prices for four lines:— Bananas 2/- doz, apricots 1/6 lb, peaches 1/3 lb, apples 10d. and 1/-per lb. The prices jn Wellington on the same date were: Bananas 1A doz. apricots Bd. lb, peaches 1/- lb, ap» pies Bd. per lb. Tb,c Government' temporary e»r bargo on fruit prices during the epidemic simply had the effect ©f diverting fruit from Wellington to other districts. The remedy suggested by our visitor was tha,t cither the Government or the municipality should utart a municipal market in Wellington and sell goods really at auction to the'higflest bidder. By doing that, the people would be assured of fresher, cleaner-and cheaper food than ever 'before, while the saving of fruit which now goes to the destructor and tho lessening of merchants' charges and profits would compensate the growers for any possible losk through lesser selling prices.
In order.to protect themselves, the Wellington fruit and vegetable sellers have formed an organisation. Speakling to a press reporter on Monday ilast, their secretary, Mr. J. W. Ranson stated: --"Tty?- chief grievjance of Hhe v:h&ha,vQ to byy fruit in the ■ markets, of late, has been that
Fruit and Vegetable Trade
Protest by Retailers
accorfiaiel witfc la*, *be Act kteUl clearly' t&at a* auctioneer selling certain kiAds 6t preface, including fruit arid vegetables, eJitll not refuse to accept a bid from a person who is prepared to pay casii for tfie , gOftds tm the fail of tjie liaflHaer, ai}d tiiat && iSttit sell the gdede to the highest bidder* Hfe 6ftS so ngfit to impose a amtte, and 60 fight to wittflrav tite goods ffo& fca-le If a bid Safe Men lor ihtft. cay that fdr a ld&£ tiii% tfi€ cuet9m of the trade bki fefe*H tdr tfe* *ucti6tieef t6 ftt tfie >fidM 6f tke t6"6di td be ft>r sale, and often* to 'trot , uf> lots Mtiiout receiving a single bonarfide bid. "Buyers are told that price, and told, alßo, that they may'tafee it or leave it' *t tfiat pricfe. The existence o£ this caetoa is adniitted by the merchants thefilSPlv&s. When it Was Jjobfiible t"6r our to live under the system w6 never complained about it, but at present condition* do not Allow ■tie retailer* to live. We talked *kis matter out with the ria&fc&ants tWs uaorhing, and We tola tfiefe that we r 6uld require ie futuf* that there -should be t;6ilie«sijig like aij aaee -at the 4aw. l/kao# thtt tJjere are difficulties, but we are reasonable pe6f>lfe. We 46 «ot w&nt t* drive tfee but bl *u»j*«Be, Ht to ler'de the auetib»i*r Oat b£ bu£i&**K, but we do Afek that w« -eHa-U tfe ail*'**ed to lire auf tV« ed tlife metdbacts that if fhiags dd sot iaiplrdve ia f©fe.p*c>t to this custOEft, we feijftll ta,ke » coaij>el a -literal observance of tfee law. "Another '6f our coifeplaints if io reject to the gra'ditg of fruit and vegetables. Soiae of the srowers in til* habit «f or up' ■their packages of fruit and -vegetables. We asked the merchants to insist upon fair packing;, but they told us they had tried, without success, to get this bfcfm-fe. We then asked them, and they agreed, to supply us with the s&ames of the growers. We are appointing a Vigilaince Committee, aad the cojftmtitfee will -mark the stuff that has been 'packed.' This will be an in* dicatjon to the -b-uym to leave tliose parcel* alofce. We hope that the effect of ifriß will be to force eirowere to grade their produce and to pack it fairly."