United States. Dept. of Commerce and Labor United States. Bureau of Foreign Commerce.

Consular reports, Issues 160-163 online

. (page 57 of 87)
Online LibraryUnited States. Dept. of Commerce and Labor United States. Bureau of Foreign CommerceConsular reports, Issues 160-163 → online text (page 57 of 87)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

are sold at the same price.


There is no duty on wheat and flour coming into Belgium.


Brussels, January 5, 18^4.

Digitized by




There has been for some years past an increasing demand in France for
American wheat, which, when mixed with the softer French wheat, produces
an excellent flour, and for this purpose such importations have become very
considerable. The opinion generally prevails that when the French and
American wheats are mixed and ground the flour is the most perfect that can
be furnished ; and it is further asserted by those whose interest lies in the
flour industry that the American flour can not at present compete with either
the local product or the Hungarian flour sent to this market.

Whether the preference for the inland and Hungarian flour over the
American product is entirely justified, it is difficult to say; but it is quite
possible that it arises from an apprehended danger of competition, and
from the fact that inferior grades of American flour have from time to time
been foisted upon the European market. It is a mistake to suppose that
inferior flour can be put upon this market with success. Let the best grades
be offered on the most favorable terms, and it will soon be seen whether
competition be possible. In the production of all food supplies the United
States are acknowledged to be the ** growing giant that threatens to crush
all competition,'* and an apprehension of this fact has caused the millers
of France, Switzerland, and Hungary to make extraordinary efforts to im-
prove the quality of their flour. With this object they are not slow to make
improvements in their mills in order to turn out the highest and best grades
of flour ; but it is not probable that the American miller will be deterred by
any mechanical difficulty from entering the European markets. As already
stated, Switzerland and Hungary are the only countries foreign to France
that occupy this market, and there is certainly a wide field here for the in-
troduction of American flour if the people can be made to see that it is of
uniformly good quality and somewhat cheaper in price.


It can be stated with satisfaction that the transport houses and shipping
agents here lose no time in duly executing American orders and in adopt-
ing, as far as possible, measures calculated to expedite business; but it is
obvious that not only the quality, but the price, of the American product
must be adjusted to compete with European products. It must have some-
thing more than the mere name of "American** to commend it. A higher
grade and lower price than foreign brands is the great desideratum; but
against this stands the ocean freight rates, etc. The French tariff" on flour is
the same for all countries, viz, J 1.54 per loo kilograms (220 pounds) ; but as


Digitized by VjOOQIC


this is met by other countries exporting flour to France, notably Hungary
and Switzerland, it would seem that the American exporters, notwithstand-
ing the disadvantage of somewhat higher freight rates, may yet be able to
compete for this trade, since the American power of production grows in a
far greater proportion than that of European countries, which have about
reached their climax and will now rather go backward than forward in pro-
portion to their increasing population.


I believe the most practical means for this purpose would be for the
exporter to communicate with firms who are perfectly familiar with the de-
mands of the French market, and who are at the same time experts compe-
tent to point out faults and suggest remedies. Perhaps the formation of a
syndicate with a large capital to set up a house in Havre, under the manage-
ment of a competent agent, might prove a successful venture. Under no
circumstances should the consignments be made to houses selling flour from
other countries, or even the local output. It has been observed that this
practice has done much to bring American goods into disrepute in this
country; for in nine cases out of ten such a consignee will make no effort
to sell the American article, and his recommendation of it is always feeble.
The agent should be an experienced person, of good address, familiar with
foreign life and customs, and who speaks the French language fluently. He
could either take orders for consignments beforehand, and then have the
flour forwarded for delivery, or he could keep a supply always on hand. It
is believed that such a scheme would be successful and finally result in open-
ing up a large market for American flour. All circulars and catalogues
should be printed in the French language.


In this part of France (Normandy) many hundred years of commercial
success and intellectual work have developed a people of superior mental
activity and a delicacy of taste which seems to have become innate. Under
such circumstances the standard of living in this consular district may be
rated as quite equal to that of any other country or district in Europe. But,
considering the fact that France ranks second to the United States as a
wheat-growing country (the average annual harvest being about 325,000,000
bushels), and that since the advent of the phylloxera and other maladies of
the vine she is giving more and more attention to the production of her
own food supply, it would not be safe to say unreservedly that the people as
a nation are quite ** ready to eat American flour,'* unless it can be made
obviously to their interest to do so.

At the present time there is believed to be some demand for American
flour, growing out of the failure of the wheat harvest in 1892 and the pro-
tracted drought that extended over western and central Europe in 1893.

It is to be noted further that the disproportion between the grain produc-
ing and consuming capacity of France is considerable and yearly increasing,

Digitized by VjOOQIC



and the deficiency in the crops of the last two years — 1892 and 1893 — must
be made good from some other quarter of the globe, In the discussion of
this important portion of the French food supply, the whole grain crops of the
country and the entire imports of all kinds of cereals — /. e., grain and flour —
would require to be taken into consideration, and this large question can not
be here entered upon.

Annual yield of wheat in France for the decade ending December ^ly /8gj,




Hectoliters. •



! 1892 .
I 1893-


Hectoliters. •
98, 740, 728

•x hectoliter - 2.638 bushels.

The best wheat flour (family and patent) is preferred by all classes in
Havre and is the only kind of American flour used by the bakers, who pre-
pare all the bread consumed by the population. This grade, though not
considered quite equal to the best grades of Hungarian flour, is also used
for pastry and other purposes indispensable to the baker and cook. The
practice of shipping indifferent qualities of flour to this market can not be
too strongly condemned. All flour sent here should be of uniformly good
quality and just what it is represented to be. It should be free from all grit
and lumps, from all smell of damp or moldiness, and it should have no
acidity of taste. All flour is subjected to crucial tests, and if it falls short
in the essential qualities of a good flour it is instantly rejected. The baker
roughly measures the quality of flour by observing the tenacity, etc., of the
dough when drawn out ; but a more accurate means of determining the
quality has been provided in the aleurometer, an invention of M. Boland,
a Parisian baker, which is now generally in use.

The following analytical statement indicates the composition of flour
which is regarded here as a good, sound article and readily salable:



Fibrin, etc

Surch, etc



Mineral matter

In 100 parts.

In one










! 74.3










The importation of cereals (grain and flour) into France from all quarters
in 1891 amounted to 588,446,900 kilograms.*

*x kilogram— 3.903 pounds.

Digitized by VjOOQIC


The following table of imports at Havre will in small compass present
a general answer to questions 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, and 8:

Counuy. j Wheat.

United Siaics: Kiiograwu. KttcgroMis,

AUanuc coasts.... „ „ „ a6i, 089,700 . 22.682,700

Pacific coast „ 183,740,200 ^

M, 682, 700
>, 151,400

ToUl from Un'ted Sutcs „ 444,829.900

From other countries 112,056,700

United States : ,

Atlantic coast.. 130,623,000

Pacific coast „ ' 138,828,800


Total firom United States 269,451,800 | 960,100


From other countries 55,837,800 I 517

I '

United States :

Atlantic coast | 71,445,700

Pacific coast 69,933,400

Total firom United States I 141,379,100

From other countries j 87,614,700





Banking facilities in Havre are all that could be desired, and banking
establishments charged with floating loans have done so with so much success
that they have been enabled to pay their shareholders increased dividends.
The American gold dollar is worth at this time in exchange 5.18 francs* and
the English sovereign, or pound, sells for 25.19 francs.


The facilities for shipping goods from the UnFted States to Havre are
abundant and regular. Three lines ply regularly — (i) the Compagnie General
Transatlantique, weekly to New York; (2) the Compagnie Commerciale,
monthly to New Orleans ; (3) the Chargeurs R^unis, to New York and New
Orleans regularly, and to other American ports as occasion may require.
Besides the above regular lines of steamers plying between Havre and the
United States, other steamships bring freight directly to this port from New
York, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Norfolk, Charleston, Savannah, Apalachicola,
Pensacola, Mobile, New Orleans, Galveston, San Francisco, etc. Occasion-
ally large sailing vessels arrive loaded with cereals from the Pacific coast.
The steamship companies of England, Holland, Belgium, Germany, and the
American line also land goods for Havre at their resi)ective European ports,
which are reshipped by coastwise steamers or by rail for this port. A daily
line of channel steamers connecting with the American line, the North
German Lloyds, and the Hamburg- American Packet Company run between
this port and Southampton.

* 5 centimes— I sou, or a small fraction les> than one Americ.in cent ; loo centimes^i franc ; z franc— 19.3

Digitized by VjOOQIC



The following table shows the French duty on American wheat and flour
per 100 kilograms:


Wheat grain

Ground wheat :

Yielding 70 per cent or more of flour cqiial lo American ••Superfine"

Yielding 60 to 70 per cent of flour equal to American " Extra "

Yielding Co per cent or less of flour equal lo American " Family " or *' Patent "






I 541





Samples of flour corresponding to the bolting must be deposited in the
custom-house offices as types for the verification of said flour.


The great barrier to an extended use of American flour in this market is
the customs duty, but I am informed that objections have also been made
to the quality of the flour hitherto imported. If this fault is remedied and
flour sent here of the same quality as that ilnported from Hungary, there
would seem to be no doubt that our millers could compete in this market,
notwithstanding the import duty.



Havre, January 18, i8g4.


In France flour is delivered to the bakers only in large sacks, barreled
flour being sold almost exclusively for use on board ships and for export
purposes. The foreign flour barrel is smaller and more substantial than that
used in the United States. There seems to be a very general belief here
that flour packed in bags is better in quality and keeps better than the bar-
reled flour. Whether this opinion is correct or not, the French people are
firmly convinced that such is the fact, and it is quite useless to attempt to
argue them out of the belief or to prepare flour for shipment to this market
except in conformity with the usage of the country and wishes of the con-
sumers. It follows, therefore, that flour intended for export to France
should be contained in bags and so packed as to exclude dust and moisture.

As already stated, the quality of the flour intended for sale in France is
of the first importance, since indifferent flour finds no favor with the bakers,
who, after all, are the arbiters of the flour market, homemade bread being
practically unknown in France. The smallest village or settlement has a
baker who supplies not only the immediate inhabitants, but all families in
the neighborhood, with bread, which must be of a standard quality, and this
can only be attained or made from flour that compares favorably with the

Digitized by VjOOQIC


**douze marques/' or standards by which flour is bought and sold in France.
The bakers at Havre are quite suspicious of American flour, for the reason
that several lots of indifferent flour imported from the United States have
been put upon this market, to the detriment of their trade. Flour, however,
ground at Paris from American wheat, and equal in quality to one of the
**i2 marks" is used to a considerable extent to mix with the French flour.

The gluten or fibrin, which contributes so largely to the nutritive quality
of French and Hungarian flour, is said to be often deficient in American
flour. In the manufacture of the former the gluten is carefully (reserved for
the benefit of the bread-consumer, whereas it is stated that this nutritious cle-
ment is extracted by the American millers, in order to impart a whiter ap-
pearance to the bread, but at the expense of both its strength and flavor.
The grayish or brownish tinge and superior flavor of the Italian macaroni
and Italian bread, as compared with similar products made from American,
or even French, flour, is said to be largely due to the excess of gluten con-
tained in the Italian flour, the Italian wheat surpassing all other in the
quantity of gluten which it contains.

As the price of flour in France is regulated absolutely by the prevailing
price of wheat, the result of the debate now in progress in the French Cham-
ber of Deputies on the proposed increase of duty on wheat may exercise an
influence of no little moment on the market for American flour in this

But it must not be taken for granted that this new customs barricade
against the introduction of foreign wheat into France will, if erected, neces-
sarily augment the price of either wheat or flour. Indeed, the experience
of the past would seem to controvert such a theory. It has been clearly
shown by statistics that the market price of wheat in France has steadily de-
clined, instead of increased, since the duty on cereals was first imposed,
and at this time wheat is actually 3 francs (60 cents) less per 100 kilograms
(221 pounds) than it was in 1884, before the duty was established.

If such a thing were possible, a firmly established commercial treaty be-
tween the United States and France, involving solid and durable advan-
tages to each of the contracting parties, would go far toward breaking down
the fiscal barriers which hamper the commercial intercourse between these
two great countries, and would at once open an extensive and liberal market
for most of the food products of the United States.



Havre, February 12^ 18^4.

Digitized by VjOOQIC




The Staff of life in the consular district of Nantes, which embraces the
entire northwestern coast of France — i, e.y Loire-Infdrieure, Morbihan, and
Finisterre — is wheat and its products. The quantity of bread consumed is
simply enormous and is continually on the increase.

The quality of flour most used is ** bolted flour ' *—/ar//;<f blutee d 30 per
cent. The first and second quality of '* groats " are also in very great favor.
And here I desire to mention especially the ** small white wheat ** of Michi-
gan, which is highly prized by the French people, although they get very
little of it.


The quantity of American wheat imported into this consular district
during the years 1891, 1892, and 1893 ^^ extremely small, almost insignifi-
cant. This, I think, has been the fault of American shippers and merchants,
and not the lack of desire on the part of French people to consume Amer-
ican wheat and its products, which, as I have already said, they esteem

The quantity of American wheat flour imported into this consular district
in the years 1891, 1892, and 1893 was nil.

The quantity of American wheat imported in 1893 was as follows, none
being imported in 1891 and 1892: General shipments, 19,805 kilograms;
special shipments, 20,590 kilograms; total imports, 40,395 kilograms.

The quantity of wheat imported from other countries into this consular
district during the foregoing years was mostly from the Black Sea region
and was as follows:




1891 9,187

1892 [ 13,074

1893 107,550


103, 892





an, 443


The facilities for monetary exchange are perfect, and are exactly the
same as those of Paris.

As to shipping facilities from the United States to this port and its con-
sular dependencies, nothing more could be asked than is supplied both by
nature and the engineering skill of man. The ports of Nantes (with its
magnificent canal), St. Nazaire, Brest, 1/ Orient, etc., offer every possible
facility for discharging cargoes of wheat or any other merchandise. But I

Digitized by VjOOQIC


would especially call the attention of American shipj)ers to the ports of Nantes
and St. Nazal re. Vessels of 3,000 tons and over can now discharge their
cargoes directly upon the quays of Nantes, the principal city of this region.
I would also call attention to the city of Angers, which is an island consular
agency and a great flour and wheat market. This city could be easily reached
by St. Nazaire.


In my opinion, there is no reason why American flour should not be more
extensively used than at present in this consular district. As I have already
said, it is highly appreciated on account of its nutritive qualities, much more
highly, indeed, than the French wheat or wheat from other countries. But,
in supplying the districts of the Loire-Inferieure, Morbihan, and Finisterre,
it is a mislake to ship the grain to Havre, as has been done heretofore.
American wheat can never be introduced into this section of France in that
way. The freight charges from Havre to the various destinations are loo
great. The grain should be shipped directly to Nantes or St. Nazaire, which
cities are the distributing points of this consular district.

As to the obstacles in the way of introducing American wheat and wheat
flour, there are at present none, except the tax of 5 francs per 100 kilograms
imposed upon importations from any and every country. But there is a
prospective obstacle in the threat to levy a prohibitive tax on all foreign
wheat and its products. The Agricultural Society of France, seconded by
one of the deputies of the north, has asked and urged the French Govern-
ment to impose an additional tax of 5 francs (96.5 cents) on each loo kilo-
grams of foreign wheat and its products that may hereafter be brought into
France. The French farmers are alarmed at the increasing influx of foreign
grain and propose to stop it. Whether or not they will succeed in imposing
an importation tax of 10 francs on every 100 kilograms of wheat and its
products imported into the country is doubtful; but the pressure to this end
is very great, and the cause of the formers is very ably presented to the Gov-
ernment at Paris by their delegates. It is my opinion that they will succeed,
and that the additional tax will be imposed.



Nantes, January 26^ i8g4.



The Riviera is a name given to the southern coast of France extending
from St. Raphael on the west to San Remo on the east. It is a district
devoted to sanitation and pleasure, and is known as the winter resort of
Europeans and Americans who seek to avoid the rigors of severe climates or

Digitized by VjOOQiC


who seek rest and recreation. Its trade depends largely upon the Ameri-
cans who seek the pleasures of this sunny land and who spend large sums of
money for personal exi>enses from December till May.

The city of Nice, which is the chief center of attraction, combines the
advantages of mountain air and sea breezes, being situated within a semicir-
cular space of territory bounded by the Maritime Alp^s and the Mediterra-
nean Sea. It is well built, with handsome houses and villas and numbers
of hotels of a most excellent character. Its pleasures are varied and offer
many attractions to the invalid. Hence there are added to its resident
population of about 90,000 citizens perhaps as many as 20,000 travelers dur-
ing the time above mentioned, and during the carnival there are many ad-
ditional thousands who come here for two or three weeks. Cannes, Monte
Carlo, and Mentone are other places within the district which have their at-
tractions for those who seek the Riviera during the same season. Upon the
influx and efflux of these strangers depend the conditions of active or stag-
nant business. Though all these places are seaports, they have no other
commerce than that which dej^ends upon the conditions above stated, ex-
cept in a small degree. Cannes exports perfumery, and there is a very small
export of olives and olive oil from Nice. In consequence of these facts,
the coast trade of the Riviera is carried on by steamers which run at inter-
vals from Marseilles and Genoa and coasting sailing vessels.

Marseilles and Genoa, being important cities of foreign commerce, the
Riviera, which lies between them, is generally supplied in all its foreign
wants by coasting vessels or by railway from these two cities. The country
is in a high state of cultivation, and its internal wants are supplied by the
industry of its people. No ground is idle, except the gardens of the rich,
and even these produce abundant fruits. Hence the people of the country
produce all that is necessary for their own living and contribute largely by
their surplus to the demands of the neighboring towns and villages. Those
who live in the country districts raise wheat and other grains, and their
bread is homemade from their own production.


The standard of living in the towns of the Riviera is high — perhaps ex-
ceptionally so — as compared with other countries, for, since the standard is
raised by the great influx during the winter, money is easily earned and
wages are generally high, making the conditions of living costly and, as a
rule, much more expensive during the whole year than in the United States.
Limited incomes find a speedy end, and only economy can meet the de-
mands which exist because of unusual conditions. The taste of the people
leads them in the cities to have excellent articles of food ; and as a rule their
means of living being greatly enlarged by their intercourse with their for^-
eign visitors, they seek always the best qualities of food supplies. This \^
specially noticeable in the bread found in the cities, for, as the peasants fu^r
f}}sh their own bread supplies, it is only in the cities that foreign flour caa
No. 162 7.

Online LibraryUnited States. Dept. of Commerce and Labor United States. Bureau of Foreign CommerceConsular reports, Issues 160-163 → online text (page 57 of 87)