14 November 2001
Next-day agchem deliveries ‘to end’

By Gilly Johnson

GROWERS should not expect next-day agchem delivery services to continue.

Agchem suppliers are baulking at the cost of providing this high level of service, and are exploring alternatives, including charging a premium for next-day drops.

However, no company is keen to break rank, and be the first to impose a charge on its farmer customers, farmers heard at a seminar on distribution during the British Crop Protection Council meeting on Wednesday (14 November).

As a tentative first step, some companies invoices are now itemising the cost of the drop, separated out from the sprays on the bill.

The potential charge for the delivery could work out between 20-32, depending on location.

Growers have come to expect frequent drops from their suppliers.

Stephen Derbyshire, managing director of distributor group UAP sends deliveries out three times a fortnight to the average customer during the Jan/June period.

“Is this necessary?” asked Philip Wynn of Lincolnshire-based Aubourn Farming.

He welcomed price transparency on spray invoices. “Our expectations for next day delivery are unrealistic. We need to take these costs out.

“No other farm input is so badly planned. If a customer wants 24-hour delivery, then he should be prepared to pay for it.”

More than half farmers usage of inputs could be planned and ordered well ahead, said independent crop consultant Alan Bide.

“We could ease the distributors pain – and we should be able to save costs ourselves.”

In contrast, French growers pay delivery charges, and the system there is simple and transparent, said Frederic Planchon of web trading company Agrifirst.