BUYING STOCK

Steve Pollock

I hadn’t been working with Pete at Fresh Fruit for long when he told me he was going away for a week and could I hold the fort. We dealt with a supplier called Harold Rickett and I was looking to buy some cauliflower off him for the next day’s delivery, but cauliflower supplies were short. I thought, “What the blimmin’ hell do I do now?” Harold says, “Oh, I’ve got some nice Cape Rock, that’ll sell.” Well I hadn’t got a clue what it was, but I says, “Go on Harold, sell me a couple of pallets.” The next morning it arrived – they were bright purple. Of course, I couldn’t sell the bloody stuff, could I? I think George took it down the cattle market in the end. That story has lived with me for over thirty years. Every time we go out, it’s like, “Can you remember when Steve bought the Cape Rock?” There’s certain things that always come up and that’s normally one of them.

 

 

Peter Buttery

I can remember another time when I was away on holiday and Andy Booth stepped in. I came back and there was about twenty tonnes of scotch ’tatoes in the rack – they’d all got wet and were dripping. It wasn’t an easy trade – even really experienced people didn’t always get it right.

 

 

Roger Williams

You weren’t always in charge. I did salads when I was with Pete and my Dutch sender who did my tomatoes and peppers often used to put on a couple of extra pallets of Dutch White cabbages to fill up the lorry. We’d get over to the warehouse and there was pallets and pallets and pallets. I says to the Dutchman, “Will you stop sending cabbage?” He says, “Well, it’s better to fill the lorries up and it not make any money than to send them half empty.” But I didn’t see it! Pete certainly didn’t – we were sat there trimming this cabbage day after day!

 

 

Steve Pollock

Most of the excess fruit and veg went to the Retail Market – what we called the Top Market. Some things had to be a certain quality to go into a retail shop, but the Top Market, although they wanted to sell quality, had a bit of scope to sell stuff that wasn’t quite up to scratch.

 

 

Roger Williams

A lot of it went up to Sylvia Pegg on a Saturday morning. I know one year I’d overdone it on Brussels sprouts, and I ended up taking seventy bags of them up to Arnold market and saying, “Look mate, I’m in a bit of a state here.” He said, “I’ll do what I can for you.” Actually, he did a very good job for me. It wasn’t often that you had to throw things – it was very rare for things to get wasted. It was only in the latter days that the Ministry of Agriculture would come down and tell you that something wasn’t fit for sale. Then you had to put it in the bin and that was cruel.

 

 

Steve Pollock

They’d tell you that it didn’t fit the EU Spec – “Your apples are too small, they’re not the right colour, they’re not labelled properly.”

 

 

Roger Williams

Wasting perfectly good food was criminal and that hurt – not only on the inside – it hurt your pocket as well. Even if it was a bit on the turn, there was a living for someone to be had out of it. I had a very good friend, a lady who had escaped Poland in World War Two and some of the things that she told me about how she used to feed herself made me think twice about all that food we threw away. God bless my soul, the food on the market sustained me. I had two very fit young lads, mainly because they were brought up on a hell of a lot of fruit and veg. We all ate very well and we never got sick of it because it we ate in seasons.

 

 

Steve Pollock

I will always remember the first green beans coming in from Worcester and thinking, “Ooh, I’ll have to sample these to know how good they are.” They were so tender – there was always something new to try.