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War Economy

Tea and Sugar

Tea and Sugar

There was no further use of systematic rationing until the war in the Pacific had reached its most desperate stage. Sugar was rationed from 27 April 1942. An indication of some of the administrative problems involved in rationing is given in a statement by the Rationing Controller, Mr J. E. Thomas:2

‘As from today sugar may be purchased only from licensed retailers by registered consumers on the surrender of the appropriate ration coupons….

‘… All retailers of sugar, whether licensed or not, are required to make a declaration to the Rationing Officer at their local post office as to the stocks of the various types of sugar held by them on the opening of their business today. Till this declaration is made retailers will not be able to obtain further supplies of sugar.

‘All wholesalers of sugar must make a telegraphed declaration to the Ration Controller as to the stocks held by them on the opening of business today. A special declaration under the Regulation in support of the telegraphed return must also be completed and forwarded by post to the Rationing Controller.

‘Commercial users requiring supplies of sugar should apply to the Rationing Controller at the post office in the district in which the business is operated. This applies to bakers, pastry cooks, dispensing chemists, bee keepers, bacon curers and manufacturers whose consumption of sugar is less than half a ton a month.’

The ration, after some changes, settled down at 12 ounces a week for each person for most of the remaining war years.3 The page 467 effect of sugar rationing was to reduce consumption by roughly 10,000 tons a year.

From the beginnning of June 1942, tea was rationed, the allowance settling down at two ounces a week for all persons over nine years old.1 Rationing is estimated to have reduced the consumption of tea per head by about 7½ per cent. There may be some doubt whether the administrative cost of rationing was warranted for this small saving. The difficulty was that some shortage could not be avoided. This and the psychological effect of rationing of other commodities could have caused panic buying, resulting in further shortages and a most unfair distribution, had rationing not been introduced.

2 Dominion, 27 April 1942.

3 Initially the sugar ration was 12 oz. per person per week. The basic rate was adjusted to 3 lb per person per calendar month as from 1 August 1942; 2½ lb per person per calendar month as from 1 October 1942; and back to 3 lb per person per calendar month as from 1 December 1942. From 1 November 1943 to 18 March 1945, the ration allowance was 3 lb every four weeks (12 oz. per week), but from 19 March to 30 September 1945, it was reduced to 10 oz. per week, after which the allowance of 12 oz. was reverted to. There were additional allowances per person for jam-making as follows: 1942, 6 lb; 1943, 12 lb; 1944, 12 lb; 1945, 9 lb; 1946, 9 lb; 1947, 9 lb. Provision was made for the supply of sugar to collective consumers according to the number and class of meals served. Sugar rationing ceased on 27 August 1948. Information from New Zealand Official Yearbooks.

1 Initially tea was rationed over the whole population (except infants under six months) at 8 oz. per calendar month, but children under ten years of age were eliminated from the scheme on 1 November of the same year. The ration was changed to 2 oz. per week on 1 November 1943. Additional allowances of 4 oz. were granted for each of the following months: December, 1942, and March, April, and December 1943. Permits were granted for the requirements of collective consumers. On 1 August 1946 persons 70 years of age and over were granted an additional allowance equivalent to 4 lb per annum. Tea rationing ceased on 31 May 1948. Information from New Zealand Official Yearbooks.