By AINSLEY THOMSON
Gary Black's new fridge has temperature control, lights, auto-defrost, even an alarm that goes off if he leaves the door open ... all the bells and whistles.
It has everything except the one thing he wants - a trusty butter conditioner. Two months ago when Mr Black's 23-year-old fridge stopped working, he tried to find a Fisher & Paykel fridge with a butter conditioner.
He had not imagined it would be a problem, after all his old fridge had one. To his dismay he was told the company no longer made butter conditioners.
Ever since he has been enduring a choice between putting the butter in the cupboard and having sloppy stuff that turns an unappealing shade of dark yellow, or if he puts it in the fridge, rock hard butter.
As the weeks wore on Mr Black, a Nelson businessman, grew more annoyed with the state of his butter and the implications of Fisher & Paykel removing the conditioner.
"This big company is dictating to people by taking the butter conditioner out. If you don't like hard butter or sloppy butter, you are going to go out and get margarine. And that is going to have an impact on the farmers downstream."
He was also annoyed that although Fisher & Paykel had left out the butter conditioner from its latest models, it had not reduced the price.
So he wrote a letter to the company expressing, in strong language, his displeasure. He also sent a copy of the letter to Federated Farmers, and it found its way into the magazine, Straight Furrow. Readers have written in by the dozen to support Mr Black. He has also had people come up to him in the street to congratulate him on his stand.
Fisher & Paykel sent a letter to him saying the removal of the butter conditioner had been a difficult decision to make. But the presence of a heating device inside a fridge was counter-productive. "This affects our ability to meet new energy standards required before our refrigerators can be sold on the Australian market."
Shelf space was also a concern.
"The increased preference by consumers for margarines and semi-soft butters has also resulted in decreased demand for butter conditioners."
Mr Black said he wasn't sure about Australians' energy concerns, all he wanted was his butter conditioner. "Real Kiwis use a butter conditioner. A butter conditioner is part of our culture."
By AINSLEY THOMSON