An editorial article from Hawkes Bay.
Globalisation is to blame, and the country is not happy. The issue is not multi-national companies taking over our country and force-feeding us American burgers and deep-fried chicken; it is more serious than that.
One of our own country's companies, in an effort to expand offshore and foot it with the big boys, has forgotten its roots and let down a large segment of its domestic market.
The culprit is Fisher & Paykel, and its sin is abandoning the butter conditioner.
Overseas visitors have looked in awe for decades at Kiwis' butter conditioners, having not seen such an innovation in their home countries.
But now, in a bid to produce an international product, the company that has produced the bulk of our fridges for years has dumped the cute little compartment. The new fridges may have temperature control, lights, auto-defrost, even an alarm that goes off if the door is left open, but no butter conditioner.
So butter-eating Kiwis whose old fridges pack up, now have the choice of putting the butter in the cupboard and having it turn sloppy and an unappealing shade of dark yellow, especially in the summer, or putting it in the fridge and have it go rock hard.
Fisher & Paykel sent a letter to a Nelson businessman who complained about the lack of butter conditioners in new fridges, saying the removal had been a difficult decision to make. But the presence of a heating device inside a fridge was counter-productive. "This affects our ability to meet new energy standards required before our refrigerators can be sold on the Australian market."
Shelf space was also a concern. "The increased preference by consumers for margarines and semi-soft butters has also resulted in decreased demand for butter conditioners."
They may all be valid points, but with New Zealand having relied upon its dairy industry to maintain the country's standard of living for decades, surely a concession could have been considered in this case. Semi-soft butter is also not what it is cracked up to be, requiring a butter conditioner for it to spread straight from the fridge.
And as for Australia's energy standards, who cares? Surely the New Zealand domestic market is big enough to warrant a special run of appliances, if for no other reason than as a nod to the fact that butter conditioners are a part of Kiwi culture.