We are exceptionally blessed to have picked up so many new clients over the last several months! Whilst remaining grateful to all our existing and many long-standing clients, some of which have been with us for many decades. Our newest clients perhaps wouldn’t have noticed the lack of diversity in our daily listings? Whilst our longer standing clients perhaps would have been somewhat concerned by the repetition of materials going up! However, irrespective of which side of the fence you are on! We have some excellent news!
OUR CONTAINER HAS LANDED FROM MADAGASCAR! (Yes, this is us screaming for JOY!)
The container was purchased in early January of 2023, and has been stuck in the country until two weeks ago! Hence the lack of interesting Madagascan material over the last several months! Irrespective of the difficulties we have encountered – watch this space – wow this is a killer container! Full of so many beautiful things, I think everyone’s mind will hopefully be blown!
WHY THE DELAYS?? WIDE SCALE INDUSTRIAL ACTION IN MADAGASCAR, THAT’S WHY!
The latest container which arrived at our warehouse yesterday has the best 20 ton of stock out of the region for many a moon! This is due to no other international exporter being willing to purchase stock, whilst the industrial action has been ongoing for nearly 6 months! Bad government decisions brought the entire industry to a standstill overnight! Let us explain!
Despite the global slow down, on all financial fronts, which many are calling the “Post Covid Recovery”. The paucity of Malagasy stock on our website has been driven by wide scale industry action in Madagascar! Regrettably, the Madagascan Government in all their wisdom, concluded that they were bankrupt! In attempt to increase revenue generation and again, in all their wisdom, implemented a 20% EXPORT taxation on all rocks leaving the region! We believe that much of this was driven by unethical Asian business models; taking as much as humanly possible for the lowest possible price, without any direct benefit to anyone else in the supply chain! Amongst other things of course……corruption, mismanagement - the ancient global problem in many governments!?!?
None the less, the overnight implementation of this ridiculous taxation had an instant and perhaps unpredictable outcome! All shipping companies, export agents and the entire lapidary industry went into an instant shutdown! The entire industry in Madagascar has been fighting tooth and nail to get the government to overturn this decision! This remains an ongoing battle, but we have managed on this occasion to negate the taxation, until further consultations with key stake holders are completed. The world bank and various international financial organizations are looking for a solution to the problem (of the Malagasy governments lack of liquidity) but sadly, due to corruption, and lack of regulatory controls this may prove difficult in the short term! Perhaps the upcoming general election of a new government might help in this regard – but this is us being the optimists!
PRICE INCREASES AND FLUCTUATIONS!
None the less, we are blessed NOT to have been held liable to the pending export tax. However, it is noteworthy that NO country is outside of the global inflation crisis and therefore overall prices per KG of stock in the region has increased. Therefore, pricing in the future is only going one way! Unfortunately, that’s up! Obviously, we will attempt to mitigate the increases as much as humanly possible, but there comes a point at which we can no longer absorb the increased costs, and some of this will sadly have to be passed onto our clients.
We often get emails from clients asking why prices fluctuate so often! This is a hard one to answer, due to the sheer number of variables impacting online pricing, but mostly because we have not increased OUR per kg price for the last 4 to 5 years! The fluctuations, often observed by our clients, is purely driven by changes in the USD to ZAR (South African Rand) exchange rate going up and down like a yo-yo! Luckily the weakening ZAR versus the USD has done our clients a massive favor.
Due to the cost-of-living crisis currently being experienced across the globe, prices will have to be increased at some point. Driven by all costs of all materials coming out of Southern Africa and Madagascar increasing! It has gotten to the point at which an increase to our per kg pricing is unavoidable in the medium term. Anyone who interacts with us, knows our business is driven by our love and passion for rocks, nature conservation, and education, and not our desire for money! The margins on wholesale are always minimal and therefore, the increases will be kept as low and as manageable as possible!
In terms of the situation in Madagascar! We just hope and pray that the pending 20% taxation on Malagasy materials is stopped indefinitely! There is talk of it being applied to unworked material (i.e., bulk rough exports) and perhaps a lower % increase in polished goods! No matter which direction this takes, we pray it will not have a negative impact on the several thousand families who are solely dependent on rock related income to sustain livelihoods. We are hopeful as the negotiations continue! Hold thumbs for everyone’s sake!
It is a difficult time for everyone, and we hope that despite the challenges we are all facing in terms of slowing retail sales, increased cost of living, and everything else in-between! That we find a way to stand up together, and keep doing what we all love, and that is, simply, finding, and selling rocks!
Toprock has been doing business in Madagascar for over 35 years and has an extensive network of long-standing friends, and many people we consider family! We shall forever continue to support our friends and family in the region, irrespective of what the bananas in government decide!
We just keep fighting the good fight and keep investing in Madagascar and its people!
A few random photos of Madagascar!