Where Your Flowers Come From

Gerberas for Africa

If you’ve ever ordered flowers from a florist, bought a bunch at a supermarket or admired the displays in a church or wedding venue, chances are that the blooms come from Multiflora, the largest flower auction house in Africa.
Viccy Baker from Retail Price Watch visited the market this week to find out how it all works.
Some 600 flower growers from all over this country and even sub-Saharan Africa deliver to Multiflora’s premises in City Deep Johannesburg where the flowers are refrigerated until ready for auction to wholesalers. The wholesalers in turn distribute to almost every city, town and village in South Africa as well as – you’ve guessed it – exporting to other African countries.
This massive operation sees some 6 million stems (individual flowers) auctioned off in a single day, six days a week. If you’re imagining lots of auctioneers shouting their heads off, it doesn’t happen like that. The auction is conducted via sophisticated software in which the auctioneer chooses a price for the flowers which are displayed in a trolley below a clock-like structure. The price rotates lower on the clock face and a buyer presses a button on the desk in front of him stopping the clock at the price he intends to pay and indicating the quantity of flowers he wishes to buy. The trolley gets wheeled out, is labelled with the name and number of the buyer and the flowers are offloaded onto a moving gangway much like a baggage carousel, to be offloaded further down the line by the buyer. There are four “clocks” thus four auctions going on simultaneously so buyers have to be nimble and knowledgeable about prices.
The flowers themselves are mostly grown indoors and are inspected for quality and graded before being auctioned. At the auction last week a single King protea stem was attracting a price of R30 although the average price for all flowers is R1 a stem.
The auction is for registered wholesalers and florists only,, but there is an enormous mall for consumers who want to shop from one of 16 agents for flowers, florist accessories, potted plants and even wedding dresses, and where it is possible to while away a few hours just taking in the beauty of masses and masses of flowers at excellent prices.


Coca Cola Climbs on Shrinkflation Bandwagon

AB Inbev manufacturer of Coca Cola and other well-known cool drink brands has introduced reduced size containers at the same price as the previous packaging to howls of rage from consumers and industry watchers.

In a recent snap online poll undertaken by the consumer website Retail Price Watch www.retailpricewatch.co.za more than 90% of consumers surveyed felt that the latest shrinkflation to hit our stores was a rip-off.

Pepsi/Kingsley/Twissa here we come!!!

The anger seems to be centered around two things: Firstly the claim by Roger Gauntlett general manager of Coca Cola South Africa that the new size was “intended to reduce consumers’ sugar intake” (the new 440ml bottle apparently contains the equivalent of 11 teaspoons of sugar instead of 13). This claim has been trashed on social media:

Roger Gauntlett is one of those business people who think his customers are stupid….

Where’s the sugar in Sprite Zero?

Secondly the new packaging which will replace the old completely in stores from November comes at the same price – a 14% hike.

Viccy Baker of Retail Price Watch says that Coca Cola’s treatment of its customers is just one more example of large FM CG manufacturers – “Big Food” – riding roughshod over consumers simply because they can.

“Coca Cola’s dominance in the marketplace is well-established. It has kept the price of its products artificially low for years, not out of consideration for its customers but in order to squeeze out smaller competitors, a remarkably successful strategy. It obviously hoped by decreasing the size and maintaining the price, to slip under consumers’ radar in the run up to the holiday season.”

Baker believes that consumers should vote with their wallets.

“Stop buying Coca Cola for your children. A diluted fruit juice concentrate contains 2-3 teaspoons sugar as opposed to the 11 spoons in a 440ml Coke, and costs far less.

“Or make Coca Cola a weekend treat for the whole family, instead of an everyday drink.”

“Reduced sales are the only way that Coca Cola will pay any attention to consumers.”