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War Economy

Supplies to the United States Forces

Supplies to the United States Forces

Reference has been made to the exclusion of Reverse Lend-Lease supplies from recorded figures for New Zealand's exports. Food supplies alone for the United States Forces rose from modest amounts in 1942, to 14 per cent by value of total exports in 1943, and to 21 per cent in 1944, falling back to 16 per cent in 1945. If all goods supplied to the United States Forces, under Reverse Lend-Lease, are taken into account, these supplies were equivalent to more than a quarter of all exports for the years 1943, 1944, and page 378 1945. Purchases were made in New Zealand by the United States Joint Purchasing Board and either used here or shipped by it in United States vessels to their forces in other parts of the Pacific.

Food supplied by New Zealand to the United States Forces under Reverse Lend-Lease was valued at over £41 million, while all Reverse Lend-Lease goods and services were valued at £81 million, both these estimates being at the stabilised New Zealand prices. Over half of these supplies were sent out of New Zealand.1

A war correspondent gave a first-hand account of the flow of New Zealand food to the Pacific theatre:2

‘This ship in which I am travelling used to carry West Indies fruits to the New York markets. Today her chilly holds are regularly packed with New Zealand beef, mutton, bacon, ox livers, eggs, butter, cheese, apples, and green vegetables destined to make more attractive menus for the Allied army, navy and air force in hundreds of camps and battle stations. The eggs your grocer could not let you have last week may today be providing a rare treat for a fighter squadron in its steaming jungle camp; the twin of the fresh cabbage whose high price annoyed you may be a luxury beyond all price on the rough wooden mess table of a lonely army outpost.

‘Never before has so much or such a variety of New Zealand's farm and market garden produce flowed overseas as in this year of the war, and never before has the Pacific seen a food problem comparable with that of feeding the United Nations’ forces which defend it. New Zealand trade names stamped on carcases, tins and boxes, mingle with those of American food companies as far toward Japan as Guadalcanal. Great storehouses are stacked to the roof in the morning and empty in the afternoon; Diesel-powered refrigerating chambers set up in places where cold was unknown before run night and day to keep the frozen foods from thawing; ships, trucks and even planes are endlessly engaged in the task of keeping fighting men from going hungry.’

1 See also p. 387. On p. 272 reference is made to the effect of the diversion of food exports on overseas exchange earnings.

2 Dominion, 21 April 1943.