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Auckland Shows Way In Control Of Milk Supply

A UCKLAND has pioneered the way for the impending big change in milk control in New Zealand, timed to come into operation with the election of milk boards on August 14. For over eleven years the Metropolitan Milk Council has been grappling with problems of milk distribution. quality and prices, and as its life approaches an end it looks back on a record of big achievement. The highlight of its career was the zoning of 60,000 homes, with a total of over 200,000 milk consumers, carried out on July 19, 1940, after strenuous weeks of planning. On the morning of the changeover the majority of these thousands of homes were served by vendors. who prior to that day were on other rounds or were distributing in other areas. As two results, the daily mileage covered by vendors was cut down from 2289 to 643, and the monthly quantity of petrol consumed was reduced from 5950 gallons to 3131 gallons, savings of 72 and 47i per cent. Out of Ruinous Conditions Few, if any, cities in the world attempted a zoning operation of such magnitude at one step. There was, therefore, great interest in Auckland's effort not only throughout New Zealand but also, overseas, and much information was sought as to how it was carried out. That was over five years ago. Had it not been for the war it is certain that Auckland would have had much longer to wait before its milk rounds were completely zoned, but the results have justified that major effort.

Most people have forgotten the state of affairs which led to the introduction of control. These were recalled in an interview to-day with, the chairman of the Milk Council, Mr. I. J. Goldstine. For a number of years prior to 1934, he said, the retail price of milk varied from 6d to 7d a quart, and when the price war was at its height milk was retailed at as low as 3d a quart, withone strong firm of vendors canvassing for consumers on that basis. Some members of the trade were faced with financial ruin, and dairymen producing for town supply had to accept as little as 3d a gallon for their product, a price which is less than a quarter of that paid to-day. Problems to be Solved Early in its career the council found itself handicapped by lack of powers to control the trade. It therefore sought authority to purchase milk for town supply and to purchase rounds of vendors who offered them for sale. This was considered necessary because there were numerous small, uneconomic rounds.

"Consolidation and zoning of rounds had to come if the council was to avoid raising the price of milk," said Mr. Goldstine. After a long public inquiry the Executive Commission of Agriculture strongly supported the council's request for additional, powers. Then the rise of the Labour Government to power prevented further progress in that direction."

Mr. Goldstine had an impressive list of achievements to rec<srd on behalf of the council. The first was the licensing of all dairymen and vendors. Next an efficient inspection system for dairies, milk! stores, shops,. vehicles and equipment used for the treatment, storage, distribution and sale of milk was established. Quality Campaign At the outset the council realised the need of taking regular samples of milk for inspection and testing. Prior to 1935 the council's officers were taking 16 samples of vendors' milk and eight shop samples a week. Within a year this figure was increased eight times over and the council arranged for its own testing service. It also arranged to have both chemical and bacteriological tests.- Now 6000 samples are taken annually in the careful check-up on quality. Over the ten years quality has improved remarkably. The bacteria in a cubic centimeter for the various groups of samples analysed last year, with the figures for 1935 in parentheses, are: — Dairymen's samples, 67,000 bacteria per c.c. (214,000); dairymen vendors, 48,000 (251,000); milk round vendors. 38,000 (134,000); shops, 43,000 (668,000). The English standard for A grade milk is 200,000 and the United States 50,000. So it is obvious that the position when the council began its campaign for better quality was far from satisfactory and equally obvious that a commendably high standard has been attained to-day.

When Aucklanders look for a nice thick layer of cream on their milk' they may be pleased to know that, whether it is there or not, the richness of the city's supply is beyond cavil. In the ten years the minimum allowed has been raised from 3.25 per cent to 3.50 per cent, but as the test was; actually 4.60 per cent in 1935 and is the same figure to-day city consumers are in the happy position of receiving a liberal daily extra fat ration.

Americans Praise City's Milk

"The people of' Auckland are now supplied with milk of the highest quality ever known," said Mr. Goldstine. "Flattering comments on it have been made by the United States Service authorities."

Wasteful overlapping in milk deliveries was abolished by the council when the whole of its area was zoned and the extravagance of having p. number of vendors travel down the same street, or of making two or even three deliveries a day, was stamped out. To-day each vendor has a small, compact area and is guaranteed a sufficient gallonage to make a decent living. Payable margins have been set for all branches of the trade and adequate provision made for all costs of trahsport and treatment. Further, fair and equitable arrangements have become the rule for milk pools, particularly to protect dairymen, who were often squeezed on both sides. Extra Costs Absorbed Supplies have not always' been sufficient and in difficult seasons the authorities have had to bring in unlicensed milk from as far away as the Hauraki Plains, but the council meets criticism on this score by pointing out that in only three winters out of the 12 it has been •operating has the shortage assumed serious proportions. Unthinkimg qritics have at times castigated the council for failing to reduce milk prices when costs were knocked down, especially by zoning and front gate delivery. The council's reply is that during recent years costs have risen tremendously. Petrol, tyres, farm costs and roundsmen's wages are some of the directions in which increases have been heavy. Yet all extras have been absorbed without any advance in the price of milk to the consumer. Is there any other commodity in universal demand which has not become dearer over the past four years?

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Bibliographic details

Auckland Shows Way In Control Of Milk Supply, Auckland Star, Volume LXXVI, Issue 174, 25 July 1945

Word Count

Auckland Shows Way In Control Of Milk Supply Auckland Star, Volume LXXVI, Issue 174, 25 July 1945

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