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In one warehouse there was discovered some fresh mutton that had been in cold storage for 274 months, and this was 10.2 per cent of the fresh-mutton receipts of all reporting warehouses for May, 1909. Of the receipts of butter in that month, 0.3 of 1 per cent remained September 1, 1911.
So, determining the percentages in a similar manner, it was found that 0.1 of 1 per cent of the receipts of poultry for a month was still in cold storage at the end of 264 months and 0.3 of 1 per cent in the case of butter.
For a storage of 211 months, fresh mutton is represented by 0.8 of 1 per cent and poultry by 0.4 of 1 per cent. Poultry has 0.1 of 1 per cent for 194 months, 0.2 of 1 per cent for 184 months, 0.1 of 1 per cent for 174 months, less than 0.05 of 1 per cent for 164 months. For 161 months butter has 0.5 of 1 per cent and for 154 months 3.3 per cent, while mutton for the last period has 0.5 of 1 per cent.
For 144 months in cold storage, 0.1 of 1 per cent stands for fresh mutton, less than 0.05 of 1 per cent for poultry, 3.5 per cent for butter, and 0.1 of 1 per cent for fish.
Fresh beef had 0.1 of 1 per cent still in cold storage at the end of 134 months; fresh mutton, 2.2 per cent; fresh pork, less than 0.05 of 1 per cent; poultry, 1.3 per cent; butter, 6.6 per cent; and fish, 10.5 per cent.
At the end of 12 months fresh beef had 0.5 of 1 per cent in storage; fresh mutton, 0.6 of 1 per cent; fresh pork, less than 0.05 of 1 per cent; poultry, 0.2 of 1 per cent; butter, 6.5 per cent; and fish, 13 per cent.
This statement covers all of these commodities held in cold storage longer than 124 months. Warehousemen explain excessively long storages by stating that they are caused by lawsuits and other circumstances of an uncommercial nature.
AVERAGE LENGTH OF STORAGE.
Since the receipts and deliveries were reported by warehousemen for each month, it is easy to compute the average time of storage. The fresh beef received into storage during the year beginning with May, 1909, was kept there on the average for 2.3 months; the fresh mutton, 4.4 months; the fresh pork, 0.9 of 1 month; and the butter, 4.4 months. The poultry received during the year beginning with March, 1909, was kept on the average 2.4 months; the eggs, 5.9 months; and the fish, 6.7 months.
The average time of storage differs as between the first and the second half of the year adopted for the purposes of this investigation. The average time for fresh beef in the first half of the year is 2.6 months, in the second half 1.8 months; fresh mutton in the first half 4.8 months, in the second half 3 months; fresh pork in the first half 0.8 of 1 month, in the second half 1 month; poultry in the first half 2.6 months, in the second half 2.4 months; butter in the first half 4.5 months, in the second half 4 months; eggs in the first half 6.1 months, in the second half 1.7 months; fish in the first half 6.8 months, in the second half 6.7 months.
COSTS OF STORAGE.
STORAGE CHARGE, INTEREST, AND INSURANCE.
In the foregoing treatment of the information obtained with respect to the length of time commodities are held in cold storage, the subject has been examined from several viewpoints. It is apparent that long storage is exceptional.
The costs of cold storage are running against the prices of the commodities month by month. The owners must use good judgment and take their goods out of storage before the costs of storage, added to the original cost of the goods and some profit, will raise the total amount of cost above the market price. It is a problem of the future. Sometimes the owner of the goods errs in judgment and fails to make a profit, again he fails to get back the cost of goods and the costs of storage, and yet again he gets back all costs and a large rate of profit.
The warehouseman has a rate of charge for space for each commodity, in some cases for storing for the “season," and in others by the month. Another cost of storage is interest, which is not always a theoretical cost, because the owners of the commodities often borrow money on the security of their warehouse receipts, or otherwise. A third cost is insurance.
If these three costs are combined they amount to 0.437 of 1 cent per pound of fresh beef per month, or 3.5 per cent of the mean wholesale price of beef from September to November, 1910, the latest period of heavy warehouse receipts within the period covered by this investigation; for fresh mutton the costs are 0.352 of 1 cent per pound, or 3.8 per cent of the mean wholesale price in the heavy storage months, August to October, 1910; for fresh pork, 0.398 of 1 cent per pound, or 3.7 per cent of the mean wholesale price of January and February, 1911; for poultry, 0.446 of 1 cent per pound, or 2.8 per cent of the mean wholesale price of the largest class of poultry during October, 1910, to January, 1911; for butter, 0.571 of 1 cent per pound, or 2.4 per cent of the mean wholesale price of butter during June to August, 1911; and for eggs, the costs amount to 0.593 of 1 cent per dozen, or 3 per cent of the mean wholesale price of eggs, April to June, 1910.
The wholesale prices adopted for these commodities are the means of a few cities in all parts of the country.
It is evident that as the time of storage lengthens the costs and their percentage of the wholesale price must be multiplied by the number of months. If the storage is for 15 months, for instance, the cost per pound ranges from 5.273 cents for fresh mutton to 8.572 cents for butter, and is 8.898 cents per dozen for eggs; the costs for 15 months range from 36.5 per cent of the wholesale price in the case of butter to 57.5 per cent in the case of fresh mutton.
For the average length of time in cold storage, as ascertained in this investigation, the actual costs are: For fresh beef, 0.997 of 1 cent per pound; fresh mutton, 1.564 cents per pound; fresh pork, 0.350 of 1 cent per pound; for poultry, 1.079 cents per pound; for butter, 2.532 cents per pound; for eggs, 3.505 cents a dozen.
The costs of storage for the average length of time are 7.9 per cent of the wholesale price for fresh beef; 17.1 per cent for fresh mutton; 3.2 per cent for fresh pork; 6.8 per cent for poultry; 10.8 per cent for butter, and 18 per cent for eggs.
Approximately the wholesale prices of the commodities mentioned are increased by cold storage to the extent of the percentages just given.
CHANGES IN CONSUMPTION CAUSED BY COLD STORAGE.
Before the advent of cold storage there was a relative monthly consumption of commodities, such as the foods now stored, throughout the year which was adapted to the current supply, and that supply was more or less closely related in time to the production.
Cold storage has interposed to change considerably the relative monthly consumption and to make it more even throughout the year. To illustrate with a supposition, if 1 per cent of the total amount of eggs consumed in a whole year were consumed in December before the day of cold storage, perhaps 3 per cent is the figure for the present time.
There has also been a change in relative monthly prices, due to cold storage. In the case of eggs the relative price has increased in the season of natural plenty and diminished in the period of natural scarcity.
These two facts, the changes in the relative monthly consumption and prices upon passing to the cold-storage period, have been arithmetically related to each other for eggs and butter to discover the effect on the mean price for the year. It is not an undertaking that can be worked out with precision and can be only indicative.
The results are that in the cases of both butter and eggs the annual price level has been raised by cold storage, for a reason apart from the costs.
In two ways, then, cold storage has raised the cost of living.
TENDENCY TO UNIFORMITY OF PRICES THROUGHOUT THE YEAR.
THIS RESULT NOT ALWAYS INDICATED.
The prices of commodities compiled for use in this investigation begin with October, 1880, and end with October, 1911, a period of 30 years. It is the opinion of men who are well informed that at about 1893 the quantities of the commodities covered by this investigation that were placed in cold storage were large enough relative to the total supply to have perceptible influence on prices. For this reason the prices, which are the first quoted ones for each month, are reduced to a mean for the period beginning with October, 1880, and ending with October, 1893. In this period are found conditions as they existed before the advent of cold storage.
The cold-storage period is subdivided in order that the prices of the later years may be observed. The second period adopted extends from October, 1893, to October, 1902, and the third one from October, 1902, to October, 1911. The prices of each period have been reduced to a mean for each month, as in the case of the first period.
The next step is the conversion of the mean price of the first of each month for each group of years into a percentage of the mean for the year. This gives index numbers that very much facilitate an understanding of the subject.
It is evident, if the percentages, or index numbers, are 100 for all months, that there is complete uniformity of prices throughout the year. Therefore a tendency toward uniformity of prices is a tendency toward 100, whether the index number is above or below 100.
In comparing the first period with the last it appears that there was a tendency toward uniformity of prices in the case of butter in 11 out of the 13 months, or much more than half; in the case of eggs and fresh mutton in 9 months; poultry, 8 months. Less than half of the months exhibit this tendency in the cases of the other commodities—5 months for fresh pork and 3 months for beef.
If the second and third periods are compared, it appears that under the régime of cold storage there has been a tendency toward uniformity of prices for butter, eggs, and fresh mutton; away from uniformity for fresh beef and fresh pork; and no change for poultry.
Another aspect of the matter may be had by noting the range of prices for the three periods.
For butter the difference between the highest and lowest index numbers is 43.3 for the first period, 29.4 for the second, and 24.1 for the third. An approach toward uniformity is apparent, because the range between highest and lowest prices diminishes.
In the case of butter the range of prices increases from 72.3 for the first period to 74.6 for the second, but declines to 63.4 for the third.
An unbroken tendency toward uniformity appears in the case of poultry, since the range between highest and lowest prices diminishes from 28.9 for the first period to 23.5 for the second and to 15.9 for the third.
Both fresh beef and fresh pork seem to have been subject to less uniformity of prices in the third period than in the first, as indicated by increasing range between highest and lowest. The range for beef rose from 8.2 in the first period to 9.4 in the second and to 14.3 in the third.
The range for pork fell from 14.4 in the first period to 14 in the second, but rose above the first to 16.7 in the third.
The foregoing examination of range of prices substantially indorses the other process in pronouncing in favor of a tendency toward uniformity of prices with regard to butter, eggs, poultry, and fresh mutton, and of a tendency away from uniformity with regard to fresh beef and fresh pork.
EVIDENCE THAT IT SOMETIMES EXISTS.
An examination of the record of the prices of commodities prepared for this investigation gives a suspicion that there has been much speculation in some years by the men who keep them in cold storage. One illustration may be given. The egg year 1910–11 had 29 per cent more eggs in cold storage than the preceding year, and yet the price index number went much higher in the months when it is high-October to January—and much lower in the months when it is low-March to July following.
At a time when there was a plenty of eggs in storage the wholesale price of eggs soared to 43 cents in Boston in November and December and to 454 cents in New York for near-by State eggs. There was an apparent mistake of the storage men in overestimating the consumption of the public at exorbitant prices, because so large was the unsold quantity at the beginning of the next egg year in the spring of 1911 that the wholesale price of eggs fell in April to 184 cents in Boston and New York, and the storage men dumped so much on the foreign market as to make the greatest quantity of eggs ever exported from this country in a year.
STORED GOODS AS A PERCENTAGE OF CONSUMPTION.
LARGE ENOUGH TO BE OF PUBLIC CONCERN. This business of storing foods has grown to such proportions that consumers have a rightful concern with its management for economic as well as sanitary reasons. From the returns made to this department by the cold-storage warehousemen, it is inferable that