Apple Growing

The Commission Man

The present system of marketing fruit products makes the commission man almost a necessity in the general market. Neither the grower nor the local dealer can ship directly to the consumer or even to the retailer, except in a very limited way. It

may be impracticable to devise any other workable system, but it must be remembered that every man who touches a barrel of apples on its journey from producer to consumer must be paid for doing so, and this pay must come either out of the seller's price or be added to the buyer's price. But so long as present conditions of marketing and distribution prevail, so long will a selling agent in the general market be necessary, and the evil cannot be ameliorated by ranting against it. An unfortunate impression prevails that all commission men are dishonest. This is not true, although undoubtedly there are many scoundrels among them, as they have shippers almost completely at their mercy. The best method under our present system is to choose an honest commission man in the city where you sell, to get acquainted with him, to let him know that your trade will be in his hands only so long as he treats you fairly, and then supply him with as good quality of stuff as you can produce. This plan has worked out well with many successful growers and marketers. Perhaps the greatest difficulty to be overcome in successfully finding good markets is that of proper distribution. As has been pointed out in the previous chapter, there has been a great increase in the production of apples and hence in competition, accompanied by speculation and more intensive methods in all phases of the business. A necessity has arisen for the production of the best at a minimum cost, as well as for finding the best market for that product. In the rush for the best market every seller is apt to be guided only by his own immediate interest without due regard for the fact that others are acting in the same way or that there is a future. The result is the piling up of fruit in a market of high quotations, and a subsequent drop in the price. Then all turn from such a market to a better one with the result that a famine often results where but a few weeks or even days before there had been a feast. Thus it often happens that one market may have more fruit than it can possibly dispose of at the time, while another, perhaps equally good, goes begging. Such conditions are ruinous to trade. Growers are disappointed and ascribe the cause to the commission man. Consumers are unable many times to profit by a glut in the market but promptly blame the middleman or the grower when the supply is small and the price high. Other difficulties with our system of marketing are non-uniformity of the grades, the packages, or the fruit itself. There should be a clear definition of just what "firsts" and "seconds" are and this definition rigidly adhered to. Transportation is too frequently insufficient, not rapid enough, especially when perishable fruit is shipped in small lots, and usually at a too high rate. There are undoubtedly too many middlemen between producer and consumer. Growers sell to local dealers who sell to wholesalers at the receiving end. These sell to wholesalers at the consuming end, who may sell to jobbers, who sell to retailers. Each man must have his profits, all of which greatly increases costs.

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Next: Co-operation

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