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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 62

Frozen meat

Frozen meat.

This trade has continued to develope in a most satisfactory and pleasing way, and to fully respond to the most sanguine expectations of those who, at the initiation of the industry, had the courage of their opinions to take vigorous and ably-conceived measures to push the enterprise in face of considerable opposition and scepticism, as the following table of yearly exports eloquently proves:—
Year ending 31st Dec. Frozen Mutton (including Lamb). Frozen Beef (included with Sheep).
Cwt. Value. Cwt. Value.
£ £
1882 15,244 19,339
1883 86,994 116,106 937 2,155
1884 252,422 342,476 1,644 2,605
1885 286,961 359,618 9,169 13,678
1886 336,404 413,713 9,391 12,843
1887 395,022 444,747 6,630 10,195
1888 507,360 573,196 44.612 54,914

Considerable attention has naturally been directed in ascertaining to what extent this heavy drain on our flocks has affected their numerical strength. From the sheep returns for the whole colony, which are not available till fully a year after the date to which they are compiled, we find the total number of sheep given on 31st May, 1888, as 15,042,198, as against 15,155,626, showing a decrease of 113,428 sheep. This decrease can be accounted for by the larger area devoted to crops, and to the severe culling which was practised throughout the colony owing to the dry summer of 1888, but chiefly to the largely increased export during that year.

The following are the latest sheep returns brought down to 31st May, 1889, for North Canterbury, i.e., Amuri, Cheviot, Ashley, Selwyn, Akaroa and Ashburton counties; and also South Canterbury, i.e., Geraldine, Waimate and Mackenzie counties:—
North Canterbury. South Canterbury.
Merinos 1,780,550 834,282
Other breeds 1,147,285 832,460
May 31st, 1889 2,927,835 1,666,742
May 31st, 1888 2,899,675 1,696,821
Increase 28,160 Decrease 30,079
Total Number in Canterbury.
May 31st, 1889 4,594,577
May 31st, 1888 4,596,496
Net decrease 1,919

It will be observed that there is a decrease in the flocks south of the Rangitata. This is mainly due to the heavy losses occasioned by the severe snowstorm of last spring. The pleasing side of these returns lies in the fact that North Canterbury flocks have not suffered by the weather, nor from the demand for "freezers," for we are proud of the position that North Canterbury crossbred mutton occupies to-day in the London market as being par excellence the choicest and most palatable of any frozen meat imported into the Old Country from any part of the world, and it is therefore a matter of congratulation that we have not as yet overstrained this important source of supply; and it is to be hoped that North Canterbury will long retain its premier position, which can only be done by a strict and observant oversight on the part of those who have the selection of the sheep for the slaughter pens, so that none go forward but what are in the pink of condition. The exports of frozen meat for the colony for the first six months of the present year are 312,941 cwt., of the value of 342,398l., "and satisfactory as the increase is, it would have been far greater but for the calamitous fire at the Belfast Freezing Works in December last, which, taking a low estimate, has probably diminished the number of carcases exported by fully 100,000. Taking into account the exceptional prices which have ruled in London, this possibly represents a loss of profit of 50,000l. to the district. Though the loss is so great, the accident has resulted in far more commodious and capacious stores, as well as extra engine power, being erected, with a possible annual working capacity of nearly 400,000 carcases. As a further outcome, large works have been erected on the South line of railway at Islington, with a present working capacity of 200,000 carcases, but with accommodation for 600,000 carcases per annum, provided additional steam power be supplied; therefore the measures taken by the shipping companies to provide extra carrying capacity are well timed, so that the immediate future of this thriving industry has been thoughtfully and wisely provided for. The boom that occurred in the Home market in May-June, due to the sudden contraction of Continental supplies and the sharp advance in prices, and speedy clearance of all stocks held, indicate that the barrier of prejudice against meat frozen is gradually and surely being broken down. The long-wished-for time has come that sales are able to be mode on a cost, freight, and insurance basis, whereby growers' and shippers' actual liability for loss, when once the meat is aboard and insured, ceases. Already large transactions have been completed on this basis. These facts tend to show the day is not far distant—nay, may we not say has arrived?—when this valuable commodity will be recognised as a very important factor in the meat supplies of the Old Country, as witness the reported sudden leap in prices, owing to the stoppage of supplies through the London docks strike. Time will not permit me to more than briefly refer to one or two more of the many other products which have all conduced to make up such a grand list of exports, bearing out what was well said in a leader in the Argus last year, "that the immediate prosperity of New Zealand will not be from her rich coal beds nor from her goldfields, but from

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