In the 1950’s, carbon black, Cabot’s primary product, was in high demand in New Zealand. This demand was driven by the rapidly growing amount of families that owned cars. As explained in the country’s profile in the September, 1951 edition of The Flame, this growth meant big business for carbon black producers. The article on this country “down under” explains reasons behind the strong demand for carbon black in this country along with explaining what life there is like.
Then and Now
Today, the freedom and stability of New Zealand’s economy is ranked #4 out of the 42 countries in the Asia-Pacific region in the Heritage Foundation’s 2014 Index of Economic Freedom. It is beaten only by Hong Kong, Singapore, and Australia’s economies when it comes to economic health. It is located about 1,200 miles from Australia and 6,500 from Panama.
Back in 1951, New Zealand’s economy posed an interesting question to economists: Why did a country that primarily prospered because of agriculture require so much carbon black? At the time, the population of the tiny country was about 2,000,000 people and around 420,000 of them owned cars. While that doesn’t sound like a lot in 2014, at the time, only one other country in the world, the United States, had a higher ratio of cars per people. Thus, carbon black, a product which was used in almost every stage of car production, was a huge seller.
Life in New Zealand
The Flame describes New Zealand as a country with “lush farm lands in the North and impenetrable rain forests in the south” with “excellent sailing in the harbours” for “yachtsmen” and “great mountain ranges that are only partly explored”. Today, New Zealand is still known for its natural beauty and way of life. The picture below shows a very modern tire and rubber factory situated between wide open land and beautiful hills. This factory, located in Wellington, is one of the many that would have taken Cabot carbon black and used it in their manufacturing processes.
New Zealand manufacturers made for good business partners at the time because demand for products with carbon black was much larger than the supply. In addition to this, New Zealand was going through a “rapid development of air transport across the Tasman and Pacific Oceans”. This, coupled with New Zealand’s good relationship with the United States, made it very easy for international trade to occur.