Historic: Honey Marketing - Part 4

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The Internal Marketing Division (IMD)

A Labour Government in 1938 quickly moved to fill the void caused by the failure of NZ Honey Ltd. The newly formed Internal Marketing Division (IMD) took over the plant and business of NZ Honey and set to the task of exporting the surplus honey, again into a troubled world market.

One feature of the IMD was the introduction of a Seal’s Levy, 1/2 d per pound of honey sold. It wasn’t charged on honey sold ‘at the gate’ - so long as the container was not so large as 60 lb. But it was payable for any honey being sold at shops or sold to a packer.

The use of the levied moneys was described as either for advertising (to increase local consumption) or as a sort of stabilising fund, to encourage suppliers to the IMD - so that the honey that needed to get exported (to avoid local glut) would be, even if the price wasn’t as high as that in the local market. In later years, the same argument came up again - how should this money be used?

Though the IMD era was actually made up of two parts: before and during the war, and after the war. Toward the end of the war, the Govt introduced a controversial ‘conscription’ of 40% of the honey produced. The move was unpopular, and met with opposition and resistance - and the next year the Govt raised the requirement to 70% of honey to be supplied by the beekeeper to the IMD.

The argument was that the Govt said it wanted honey for such as hospitals and military and to supply to England, as well as supply the main city markets, which were not so well serviced by honey packers (with Christchurch a notable exception). Figures eventually showed that what honey was supplied was not prioritised and targeted as expected.

That period from the end of the war until 1954 had the beekeeping industry wanting to have a representative body to take over from the IMD. When the Minister finally made a decision in the late 1940s, he called for a representative from the NBA, 1 from the Honey Control Board and one from an association of suppliers to the IMD.

A lot of the differences of opinion came from the question of whether beekeepers and packers who pay the Seal’s Levy should be able to stand, or even vote, for members of a marketing committee? Then arguments about proportionality of voting, and several bits of botched regulations. One drafting error had an “and” rather than “and/or”, and it provided ongoing controversy in an already volatile industry…

By the early 1950s things had started to settle down - and an incoming National Govt told the industry that it wanted out of involvement in the handling of honey. The industry was quickly told to come up with a means of ‘organised marketing’, if that was indeed what the industry wanted.

The two part era of the IMD ran from 1938 to the end of the war, then the second part from then until the creation of the Honey Marketing Authority in 1954.