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Sunburnt Cows and Pigging Out

Sunburnt Cows and Pigging Out

An unusual heading for a UK gift basket and hamper business, but these are two of the issues which have crossed my desk today for problem resolution.

Why are they problems?

Well the cheeses are hand-made by small British and Irish cooperatives. The old fashioned cheese manufacturing techniques rely upon the freshest milk from the roaming herds across Ireland’s luscious green grass.

The sun does shine in Ireland between the frequent bouts of heavy rainfall. And in June the weather was pleasantly sunny. That is unless you were a cow, in which case there appears to have been a high likelihood that you were afflicted by sunburn.

So for some of our cheese suppliers their ability to produce has been affected by the poor cows developing a case of sunburn, which has made them unable to produce amount of milk.

A second issue which is on my mind this morning is how to photograph the cooked ham in this year’s hampers, and how to price for them.
The company we use - Brady Hams - is a family business based in the North. They are frequent winners of Gold Medals in the Great Taste Awards, and have been our suppliers for several years.

Last year we received a beautiful burgundy box from them, which we thought looked great. We advertised the ham at 1.5kg, which is what they expected the pigs to grow to. Only problem was that the pigs grew too big! The hams ended up averaging more that 2kgs, which meant the hams didn’t fit in the box. They were so big that it was touch and go whether they would fit in our thermo-chill boxes.

So the decision we must make in August is, do we photograph the hams with the box and hope the pigs don’t grow too big? Or do we anticipate that there is a trend towards fatter pigs? If that is the case then we have to attribute a greater value to the ham component of the larger hampers.

Small issues and problems at this stage, but the repercussions are significant later in the year. Last year our customers were getting approximately 35% more ham than what we priced for. Hopefully for our finances, it is not quite such a high percentage this year.

When we started Basketsgalore we were mainly concerned with obtaining orders, pricing and order fulfilment. As the business grows, so too do all the problems. So much so that you get to the point where one day in September you are hoping that the cows are wearing their sun-cream, and the pigs are exercising restraint at dinner time!

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