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REPORT BY CONSUL BAKER, OF BUENOS AYRES. In reply to your circular of the 5th of March last, instructing me to report upon the stave trade of this consular district, I have to premise that the Argentine Republic, in the matter of cooperage, is in a very unfortunate condition. There is no oak timber in the country, and thus far no other timber has been found here which is suitable for making barrel staves.
Hence, since time immemorial, all sorts of expedients have been resorted to to meet the requirements of the people in this respect. The principal one here in Buenos Ayres has been to work over the empty barrels and casks which from time to time have been received from abroad filled with wines, liquors, sugars, etc. This source of supply has heretofore been sufficient to meet the limited demands of the few manufacturing establishments, and in this business the local coopers have built up some trade.
In the interior, where old barrels are not so readily procured for packing flour, sugar, grain, etc., the people generally use cotton bags and hempen sacks, but of course such packages experience the bad effects of damp weather. In the Andine provinces, which are the great wine producing portions of the Argentine Republic, that industry has been specially retarded by the lack of conveniences for holding the product. In the absence of casks, the wine makers have had to resort to large earthen jars, which are not only heavy and unwieldy but easily broken; and for transporting it they made use of smaller jars, which, incased in hides, could be balanced across the backs of the pack mules. Since the manufacture, however, has increased, and railways have been extended into the far interior, wine casks and butts have been especially imported, though not in quantities commensurate with the demand. With the growth of the country distilleries and breweries have been estab. lished at various points, but of course all their vats, tubs, tunning casks, and barrels have been imported from abroad.
These growing industries have, during the last few years, greatly increased the call for foreign barrel staves, a large proportion of which are shipped from the United States. · In 1884, as appears by the custom-house returns, the importations of shooks and casks amounted to only $7,832, as follows:
2.756 2. 1.50 1.581
In 1889 the total importations of barrel staves and casks were as follows:
Besides this, there was imported in 1889 oak lumber or timber to the amount of 54,212 square meters, valued at $38,372, nearly all of which came from the United States, a good portion of which I presume was used for casks or other cooperage.
The custom-house returns for 1890 have not yet been published, so that I am not able to give them. The above figures, however, show that the trade in staves is not only increasing, but is susceptible of much greater development.
The staves in demand here are those made from oak timber, and should be in sizes for hogsheads, casks, and barrels. Those for hogsheads should be of red oak, the others of white oak. The exact dimensions, of course, may depend on the specifications sent with the orders. The barrels generally in use are wine casks and ordinary flour barrels.
Staves are generally delivered here in bundles, or shooks, as they are called. I do not think it would be so safe or so satisfactory to ship them loose.
As will be observed from the above custom-house returns, American staves are to some extent sold in this country; indeed, the greater part of the staves which now come here as shooks, ready to be made into barrels, are imported from the United States.
In former years all foreign cooperage sustained a duty of 25 per cent; then tunning casks and fermenting tubs were entered free. Now all barrels, staves, and casks can be imported from abroad without paying a duty.
Considering the absence of native woods which are suitable for cooperage, the wonder would seem to be that the importations are not larger, for it appears to me, with the number of distilleries, breweries, wine manufactures, sugar establishments, flour mills, etc., now in the country and which is every year increasing, that the demand could be greatly extended. As the Argentine Republic can not supply it, it must be supplied from other countries.
Owing to financial troubles and the general want of confidence in business circles, the present is not a very favorable occasion for open. ing or increasing our trade in any branch of commerce with the Argentine Republic, and I would not advise dealers in staves to take any risks in making shipments. To learn, however, the details and the possibilities of the trade, I would suggest manufacturers or dealers to correspond with Messrs. C. S. Roberts & Co., or C. S. Bowers & Co., or Thomas Drysdale & Co., or J. & J. Drysdale & Co., or John Shaw & Sons, or Shaw Brothers, importing merchants of this city.
E. L. BAKER,
Consul. UNITED STATES CONSULATE,
Buenos Ayres, June 12, 1891.
REPORT BY OONSUL BURKE.
There is no business done in staves or trade in this article, either in the way of manufacturing them here or importing them. Of course, not being manufactured, they can not be exported.
What empty flour barrels and codfish barrrels there are, are used for various purposes. Among the articles exported in them are rubber and twist tobacco. Few barrels, on the whole, are used, as sacks are found much more convenient for handling and carrying products from one place to another than barrels. And I presume this is the chief reason why there are no stave manufactories in this place. Some of the mills in the city manufacture, among other coarse fabrics, sacking, and some is imported from Europe, while a mill is in process of construction in the city the only business of which will be to manufacture sack ing. Until mules and donkeys, as carriers of products, give way to locomotives there will be little use for staves.
DAVID N. BURKE,
Consul. UNITED STATES CONSULATE,
Bahia, June 6, 1891,
RIO GRANDE DO SUL.
REPORT BY CONSUL NEGLEY.
There is no demand worth mentioning for staves in this state. Old flour barrels and wine casks are used whenever empty barrels are needed.
At Pelotas there is a flour mill which requires about 20,000 barrels per year, but, as some 100,000 barrels of flour are imported every year, the supply of empty flour barrels is ample to meet this demand. Once in a great while the commercial houses import a few thousand of the ordinary flour-barrel staves, generally from the United States. Outside of this there is no trade in the article.
Consul. UNITED STATES CONSULATE,
Rio Grande do Sul, June 16, 1891.
REPORT BY CONSUL OARROLL.
The number of staves used in this district, according to the figures obtained at the custom-house at Demerara, for the year 1890 is as follows:
White-oak staves are used more extensively than are the red oak, the former only being used for rum puncheons, and are much in demand, while the red oak are principally used for molasses casks. Of these staves there is at present an over supply in this market.
The source of supply is chiefly the United States, as per the above table. Norfolk and Charleston appear to be the principal shipping ports. Portland, Me., appears to supply a small proportion, while small vessels from Halifax, Nova Scotia, and Prince Edwards Island occasionally bring part cargoes.
The cost here is governed by the price paid and freight from Norfolk, Charleston, and other shipping points. Prices quoted: White oak culls, $55 to $60; inspection, $75. Red oak culls, $35; inspection, $15. Prices always subject to fluctuation.
Staves, to command the highest price and give most satisfaction, should be delivered dry and well cured. No dressed staves appear to be imported here, and none seem to be desired, at least thus far. Rough staves seem only to be imported and then usually are sent directly to the various estate cooperages from the ships, where they are dressed and converted into puncheons and casks. It seems impracticable to arrive at an estimate of the price they command after being dressed, no means thus far being kuown to ascertain this.
The correct dimensions of the staves in use are: Staves, 3 feet 9 inches long and 31 to 4 inches wide, by 11 to 17 inches thick. Heads, 32 inches long and 54 wide, by 14 inches thick.
The kind of timber most desirable for the particular kind of staves desired are white oak and red oak to a less extent.
The supply at present is abundant, no inquiry being made as to staves. There is little or no manufacture of sugar at this season, which accounts for the dullness of the market. There will be more demand at the commencement of the erop season proper, say about the middle of September
With the exception of a small quantity of staves imported from Canada during the course of a year the whole supply is drawn from the United States.
The duties upon staves imported into this colony are as follows: White-oak staves, $2 per 1,000; red oak, $1.50 per 1,000. Duties collected on white-oak staves from the United States, $1,675,36; duties collected on red-oak staves from the United States, $313.65; duties collected on white oak from Canada, $374; duties collected on red oak from Canada, $7.64.
The bulk of the sugar shipped from this district is contained in bags, consequently few staves are required for barrels therefor. Sugar hogsheads, however, properly speaking, are manufactured from shooks also obtained principally from the United States.
Planters and others connected with the sugar industry are of opinion that eventually there will be little or no demand for wooden packages or barrels for use in the shipment of sugar and that the stave movement and market will be confined to molasses and rum. It appears that the bag is more convenient, as well as a more economical form of package for almost all grades of sugar.
Consul. UNITED STATES CONSULATE,
Demerara, July 28, 1891,
REPORT BY OONSUL M'OREERY, OF VALPARAISO.
The staves imported into Valparaiso during the year 1889 amounted to 1,072,138, and their value was about $121,600, United States currency.
The kind of staves in greatest demand are extra pipe staves.
They are shipped from New York and Boston, and the cost to the consumers is from $220 to $240, United States currency, per thousand.
In order to command the best price and to give the most satisfaction they should be good straight staves, full size, and without defects.