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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 62

Fruit Export and Packing

page 11

Fruit Export and Packing.


If this young industry is to become permanent and profitable to our land, a few hours' inspection of the fruit being shipped by the steamer "Tainui" has shown me that much greater care in several ways must be exercised by the shippers. In the first place most of the cases put on board to-day were quite unfit to carry the fruit safely, being nailed together so slightly that on being lifted several of the lids fell off, being only tacked on with 1½in. shingle-nails, instead of 2in. stout wire nails, such as all lids nailed to the end of the grain should be fastened with. These cases were not being handled roughly—in fact, every care was being exercised, yet in about an hour five lids fell off, and the contents were damaged so as to render them unfit to ship. I am informed that these cases were supplied by the timber companies ready made up. I would draw the attention of the managers of those companies to these remarks—namely, that, while the timber of the cases is all that could be desired, they are put together in a manner uncreditable to the company and quite unfitted to the purpose for which they are intended. So much for the cases. Now, with regard to the fruit that rolled out, the most casual observer could not help seeing that this fruit was not such as would be considered first-class by any means. Indeed, I must say that the fruit that came out of one of these cases was quite unfit to export, there being apparently no attempt to grade the fruit to anything approaching uniform size; and, worse than that, about one out of every three of the apples I saw from this case of Reinette du Canadas was badly blemished by the bronze beetle and in other ways, such as loss of stalk, rubbing against branches on the tree, and so on. A great deal of unnecessary paper also seemed to be crammed into the cases. London buyers expect a case to be full of apples, and not to find the space that should be occupied by half a dozen apples to contain only paper. I know well how difficult it sometimes is, with a lot of well-graded fruit, just to exactly fill a case, and how, with a half-inch to spare at one end, a bit of paper is useful to wedge all tight; but with ungraded fruit such as I saw, with care small apples can always be found to fill the small spaces that large fruit do not readily adapt themselves to. I do not know how the shipper of this fruit could expect it to realise a satisfactory return; but I must say, and regret to say it, that if much fruit like the sample that came from the case in question is sent to London, it will very soon seriously damage the good name that New Zealand fruit has already made for itself. Growers and pickers, see to it that you ship only first-class fruit. The expenses on a case of poor fruit are just as great as on a case of good.

Now, a word to the carters and lumpers, and I am done. Do not, like good fellows, handle this fruit roughly, by letting the cases drop or jar in any way that you can help. Do not say to yourself or any one else, "What the d I do I care! it's nothing to me;" but just think for a moment (you can all think, I have no doubt) that this fruit export is like a new-born babe, it needs a lot of tender care and nursing if bruised and knocked about while in its infancy page 12 it will be crippled for life, and that life will be a short one, but if treated with care it will grow large and strong, and give you days and weeks—aye, months and years—of good honest work. So, men, do your share of the nursing, and handle these cases of fruit like you would new-born babies.

Trusting that these remarks may help in their small way this young industry,

I have, &c.,

Lionel Hanlon.