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MEAT INDUSTRY, Ashburton Guardian, Volume XXXIX, Issue 9586, 14 April 1919
ADDRESS BY MR MANN
Mr David Mann, salesman of Smithfield Market, addressed a large'gathering of farmers in tho A. and P. rooms on Saturday afternoon upon the marketing of New Zealand meat in the Home Country. Mr J. Cow presided,, mid stated that Mr Mann was in New 'Zealand partly on a holiday and partly on' business. He was for '14 years a retail butcher in Duncdin, and -went home- to ■ become instructed in retail shops, and later went into the wholesale business at Sinichiield'. ■
Mr Mann stated that he had now [ srjent close on. 30 years in London m business. He claimed to have the interests of the New Zealand trade just as much at heart as the New Zealand producers. He pointed out that not more than 20 per cent, of New Zealand meat was available for consumption by the civil population at Home since the commandeer came into force. As a matter of fact, the percentage had often dwindled down to only 10 per cent, of the whole output. It would be seen that the aggregate quantity of meat used by the civil population in Britain during the commandeer period, at all events, was indeed very small. The growers in New Zealand could not, 'therefore, honestly say that much in the way of excess profits could have been made out of the meat commandeered in the Dominion. In regard to prices paid by the Imperial Government to the United States and Canada and' the Argentine, Mr Mann said he was under the impression that the growers of the meat, chiefly beef, which was acquired in the United States and Canada was paid for on the basis of Is Id per It). The wholesale price of Home-grown meat would be up to about Is 3d for lamb and up to, say, Is 2d for beef. He understood that the contract price for Argentine meat did.not greatly exceed 8d per lb. On the above showing, the growers in those countries had reaped a greater profit than the growers of Australia and New Zealand. He held that the Imperial authorities had a right to expect to get the meat grown in • British possessions at a cheaper rate than they could secure it in other countries. No one would suggest that the Imperial authorities would have spent such large sums in outside countries if the meat available in Australia and New- Zealand could have- been transported Home quickly enough. Mr Maun pointed out that, it was owing to the food problem becoming so grave that large supplies of meat had to be drawn from other countries. There were many matters in connection with the, commandeer of meat that were very favourable to the Dominions. It was extremely unlikely, had they been foreign possessions, that such strenuous measures would have been taken in the face of the submarine menace"to relieve them of their produce. The action of the Government in letting a portion of the meat go to .private consumers had: been the means of keeping the meat agents employed, and'therefore keeping customers of the frozen meat trade together. The -.growers should- also not overlook the fact that they had received heavy advances on their meat prior to shipment. Mr Mann contended that the Imperial Government had watched to guard against profiteering at Home, and there was not the margin of profiteering going on that some growers seemed to imagine. A' voice: "What about the shipping ?" ; Mr ■ Mann agreed that there was pronteerinVfout of shipping, but a good deal of the money thus made by. shareholders in shipping companies went back in payments to the Government by way of excess profit. Mr Mann then went on to state that the bulk of the New Zealand meat went to the Allies, and very little went to the civil population. Mr .T. Farrell asked: What about the lamb ? .
'Mr Mann said that a large quantity of lamb went to the hospitals. He then went on to explain the methods of distribution under the meat control. It was also made compulsory for the retailers to ticket up the price of each piece of meat, so that the public could clearly see what they had to pay. The retailer was allowed a 20 per cent, cross profit on all the meat released for these shops, and if there were any excess or breach of regulations the license was cancelled. There was. not the quantity of meat available to the demand, and a large number of small shops had to close up. They had heard of people -having to pay 2s 6d per 1b for mutton, bufc he assured the farmers that any butcher who exceeded the 20 per cent, profit basis was quickly pounced upon by the Controller. Some of the retailers had to take rubbish of meat on many an occasion from Canada and the States. The public had no ootion but to buy this or to go without. The wholesalers also had no advantage over the retailers in regard to supply. Mr Mann also pointed out that if the Imperial Government had some profit out of the moat it had to back the insurance at Lloyd's of meat ships lost.
Mr Heseltine said New Zealand meat had often been sold in shops under another name, and he wondered if the same state of affairs existed during the war.
Mr Mann, said this did tiot happen durine: the war, as the High Commissioner and others had kept a carefu] watch over the retailors. He admitted that dishonest trading had heen carried out at Home. The bulk of New Zealand meat was sold for what it was, and he pointed out that Scotch mutton in the . open market commanded a higher'price''than New Zealand meat. A,,10t depends also on liow the, meat was defrosted. If handled before it had properly thawed it lost its colour. The better-class tradesmen allowed the meat to thaw and'dry properly before being handled. There were others who did. a huge trade "at small profit by •handling, cutting, and selling the meat with the ice on it. Mr Mann said he considered the values of New Zealand meat would drop a good bit on account of competition from other countries nearer the Home market. He .considered the price of stock in New Zealand was too high, and land values, were also too high. A good many!, people thought there, would be a great outlet on the Continent for mutton, but he doubted it, France might take a certain percentage. The Dutch. exPorted their :best mutton and beef and relied on horseflesh for food to a large extent. The same would apply also to Germany. The Continent could also, by its nearness, send its meat chilled, to the London market. New Zealand mutton and lamb was the best quality exported from any of the colonies. The butchers liked it to sell with their beef. A. man who sold New Zealand mutton and lamb did not, as a rule, sell frozen beef. He was afraid, however, that the Meat Trusts might throttle the New Zealand business and refuse to supply the fresh beef to the Home markets if they persisted: in taking New Zealand
mutton and lamb, lr* ' xHann said the New Zealand Government allowed an outside,*firm to be registered in New Zealand as a British company, and the latter could not-be kept out of nomination on the other side over the meat auestion, so that the Government was not altogether free from assisting the Trust. In answer to a question, Mr Mann said many losses had taken place in the working up of the frozen meat trade at Home. In his own experience as a retailer he had sold the best New 'Zealand mutton cheaper in London than inferior "quality mutton was being sold in New Zealand at the same time. He considered there was a km re outlet for New Zealand mutton and lamb, but not so for frozen beef, at Home. He warned the farmers to watch the Trust and not lot it get a hold. Tho trade was now established, and tho Trust only had to get a hold to gather in the profits at the expense of those who' had built un the markets.
•Mr Cow said the farmers should take warning from Mr Mann's remarks. The hulk of New Zealand meat- was consumed at Home by the middle classes, and the time would come when they would .not have the .same prosperous times as at present. Mr Mann, in addition to being in the meat business, was also a New Zealand producer, "having ;i farm in Southland; and the farmers could take it that he was perfectly honest in his intentions.
A. henrtvvote of thanks was accorded to Mr Mann.
MEAT INDUSTRY, Ashburton Guardian, Volume XXXIX, Issue 9586, 14 April 1919
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