Sunday, 27 March 2011

Ginger Drunkards, Fijian Markets And Increased Sales For Reeds

The other day I stumbled across an article in the New York Times from December 1888. What attracted my attention was the title, "Jamaica Ginger Drunkards; Startling Statements Concerning The Prevalence Of The Habit". William H.Doble, a grocer from Dedham in Massachusetts, appeared in court on a charge of violating the liquer law. Specifically, the alleged offence was selling Jamaica ginger as an intoxicant. What made this Jamaica ginger questionable was that although it could be sold legally for medicinal purposes, Doble's version contained 69% alcohol. The statute of the time stated that any beverage of more than three per cent alcohol would be classified as an intoxicating liquor. Surprisingly, the jury found Doble not guilty which must have pleased many of his customers who were described by the New York Times as "Jamaica-ginger drunkards, a species of inebriates by no means uncommon".

The Fiji Times reported that ginger farmers in Dreketi are struggling to find a market for their produce. The farmers are claiming that middlemen and supermarkets are paying such low prices that they cannot afford to expand into large-scale ginger farming. The Fiji ginger industry is based around a few large growers and many small (typically one acre or less) growers. If the Fijian government's programme to increase ginger production is to be successful, it will have to ensure that a fair payment system is put in place.

Reeds Inc, the US confectionery business famous for its ginger products, released its 2010 Annual Report last week. Total net sales increased by 34% but the gross profit margin as a percentage of net sales decreased by 3% to 21%. Reeds stated that the non-chocolate candy segment (i.e. the ginger products) will continue to be a growth area. Linking back to the previous item I learnt that Reeds Crystallized Ginger Candy is manufactured in Fiji.

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