New text 02/11/09 starts here.
Item 1 – Conclusion.
From the figures given in the text, all of the 2,000 tateshita bought at the cheapest price (after the other 1,500 have been discarded and are now swimming in the Shinano River) will be shipped at 20 per carton as detailed and this will show that the landed price of the Koi will consist of around 20% in actual Koi value and 80% spent on transportation costs. That total goes to make up the real value of those Koi upon arrival before they are offered for sale.
On the other hand, the very best 50 that I have selected after 3 days of careful selection, concentration and experience will be packed only at TEN per carton and not 20 because I want these in perfect condition on arrival back home. Even by paying twice the airfreight costs mentioned above, the landed price of those Koi will consist of 10% transportation and 90% actual Koi value!
In these instances, airfreight costs are not even worth mentioning and this kind of ratio between ‘good’ Koi and ‘not so good Koi’ has always applied as long as I can recall!
At today’s exchange rates, the retail sales potential in buying random quantities of Japanese-bred tateshita in order to make a profit that was never possible even in better times is now completely and utterly impossible unless there are still a few wealthy dreamers remaining. China; Israel and a few other countries that concentrate on volume production only have long since taken this market for ‘not so good Koi’.
As far as the UK is concerned, it is painfully obvious to me that breeders such as Koi UK and Cuttlebrook Koi farm can supply better and healthier Koi than any imported from other countries today AND without the risks of transportation damage and very real disease problems from some countries.
Item 2. – The most important one.
On several occasions towards the end of an autumn trip to Japan I have reflected the past 8 weeks when we have been finding our Koi for re-sale and taking a number of very wealthy collectors to find special Koi.
On two separate occasions, the total spend on Koi alone for the period has been just over £2,000,000.00 per trip and that has been a FACT and not a fantasy!
At these times I am my hotel room preparing shipments of all these Koi to be sent to many countries including the UK – this takes days of paperwork followed by return trips to check all my Koi at the breeders who holding them for me.
In short – all these Koi now belong to me and the full amount has been settled – all that now remains to pay is the cost of transportation and finalise all shipping details.
Let’s say at this point I decide to call in a Bank Manager and Professional Risk Assessor/Financial Adviser to give some professional business advice and they suddenly appeared in my hotel room as if by magic!
a. I tell them I have live Koi awaiting shipment that I have already paid £2M for.
b. I tell them that others will pack these into double or triple vinyl bags, add a quantity of water and inflate the bags by liquid oxygen, seal with standard rubber bands then put them into a cardboard carton and finally seal all cartons with plastic tape.
c. The cartons will then be loaded onto a truck and driven to a collection point nearby.
d. Then they will all be loaded onto a large truck and driven some 220 miles by road to Narita airport near Tokyo.
e. Cartons will then be split for different flights to different countries at the airport by the handling staff after passing through customs clearance.
f. Cartons will then be loaded onto each respective flight by airport handling staff.
g. Most will then travel half way around the world to their airport of arrival taking from 14 hours to 20 hours in the air.
h. They will be off-loaded by airport staff and passed through customs etc. at their final country of destination.
i. The receiving owner will collect the cartons and drive them back to his pond/s by road before opening them and the Koi will finally be released into new water.
j. I then point out there is no insurance possible for any of these movements and that ALL the risks involved are mine.
k. I then mention I must pay a further £250,000.00 for the transportation bringing my total spend to £2.25Million Pounds Sterling.
l. I then ask them both, in their professional capacities, to evaluate how much money my Koi are worth right now swimming in various breeder’s ponds dotted around the mountainsides.
This is my take on their replies: –
The bank manager will first ask – ‘So these cartons in which your fish will be packed are just standard cardboard boxes, the bags are just normal vinyl bags and the rubber bands are just ordinary rubber bands?’
Of course, I will confirm that he is absolutely correct.
He will then say that I need extremely urgent psychiatric attention before leaving the room rapidly.
The risk assessor/financial adviser will immediately confirm the bank manager’s view and will evaluate the actual worth of all the Koi in the breeder’s ponds right now as being MINUS £250,000.00 (including the cost of airfreight). He will then say his goodbyes after first offering me a lift to a local mental institution.
Before he leaves I will then ask him – ‘But just imagine, IF – just IF all those fish arrive safely back home, please tell me how much they will be worth when offered for sale please?’
After careful thought he will give his firm reply ‘Twenty Five Million Pounds at a MINIMUM’.
Of course, the ‘Mr. I Am A Koi Collector and I know Everything’ persons in all parts of the world will scream ‘RIP OFF’ to all within hearing distance!
And of course, the Japanese breeder’s have not even the faintest idea of what is involved – they simply produce some of the finest Koi in the world and that is their job. They often transport their Koi to other parts of Japan via incredibly efficient road transportation companies at a very reasonable cost and the Koi are seldom in carton for longer than 14 hours.
I assure you all, if the breeders had to be responsible for even a part of these risks detailed above, they would rapidly disappear back into their homes to take urgent rest before the coronaries struck them. To put this to the test, the next time you ask a Koi breeder as to the price of a particular Koi, ask him to give you one price for straight purchase and then another one for landing it at your own pond in PERFECT condition.
Only a few individuals in this world have any idea of what is at stake with EVERY SINGLE shipment and, of these individuals, the vast majority consist of very stupid Koi Dealers like myself – without exception.
Then the ‘Mr. I Am A Koi Collector and I know Everything’ would scream to all that the risks are ‘INSIGNIFICANT’.
Then the few individuals who really KNOW will reply by saying – ‘Yes, they are BUT please consider a shipment arriving at Heathrow, alas, at the last minute, fog or ice/snow will not allow it to land and it gets diverted to De Gaule, Paris. We are told that the next connecting flight to Heathrow will be in 12 hours time ‘weather permitting’. So we get into our trucks and race to Paris for collection and then load the cartons into our trucks and drive non-stop back to the UK.
It is there that the UK customs officials tell us that live fish cannot enter the UK from France and then all the Koi are tipped into the English Channel!
Then just mention your word ‘Insignificant’ to me once again Plonker.
In all my own dealings with this, that is – since direct shipments over Russia have been possible, I have been exceptionally lucky. Of course, there have been one or two losses here and there and some minor damages in transportation but few that cannot be repaired with the correct treatment.
There has been only one instance I can recall where an expensive Koi belonging to a guest has arrived damaged beyond perfect repair. One leading ray of the pectoral fin was shattered in transit and despite us later splinting it and placing it in warm water for a few months, the fracture point still showed a permanent nodule of gristle which made it not so good for show purposes.
Despite the fact that all our guests sign a form to say they accept all transportation responsibilities for their Koi and despite the fact that this particular individual was wealthy in monetary terms beyond wildest dreams – we could hear the spoiled little boy’s squealing for months and months after the event. Despite all this endless squealing, my answer to him remained the same – namely, ‘Buying Koi is a game for the Big Boys’.
On the other hand, I recall a 2M yen (then £11,500.00) 93cms Kohaku of mine that arrived in perfect visual condition at Heathrow – the only one problem was – it was dead!
Surprisingly, there wasn’t even one ‘Mr. I am a Koi collector and I know Everything’ who came along to throw a few pounds into the kitty to help offset my loss on that occasion.
C’est la vie!
Yes, of the few Koi Dealers who really know what it’s all about, these are all self-confessed disciples of the legendary St. John the Gambler – just like I have been for as long as I care to recall – it is a disease that should be recognized as such!
The next time you see a ‘good’ Japanese Koi for sale, (you know – the ones that are about as easy to find today as are rocking horse droppings) – before you scream ‘RIP-OFF PRICE’ to all, why not pause, think and then bite your tongue………..
……………………….VERY, VERY, VERY hard – at least, until you taste blood!
And that’s the real truth as to ‘The Price of Nishikigoi’.