November 20, 2007

The greatest rip off

You do know that when the price of produce and groceries go up - and the supermarket chains patiently explain about the increasing price of freight, production, or wages, or the unfortunate shortages due to drought or crop failures - it's all a big fat lie, right?

Seriously, you do know this?

See, this is one of the things in life that infuriates me.

Happy, thrilled even, to pay more to primary producers for almost anything (well, okay, not broccoli or broad beans, and I'm not a friend to mangoes or offal of any variety), but every single time the prices go up, MOST TIMES, not a single cent more is going to the producers. Very often, their income is heading south, while the supermarket profits head north.

This disgusts me more than I can articulate and I feel underpowered to "do" anything about it, other than voice my fury. Boycotting supermarkets is not an option, alas.

"After that you'll be buying navels shipped in from the US, Spain, perhaps Israel," he says. "And you know what really gets me? The supermarkets have already put the prices up in anticipation of the drought, $3.48 per kilo, and I get paid less than 36 cents a kilo."
Well, that farmer's supermarket, maybe, but at mine, oranges have been around $3.98 for quite a few weeks now.

This is not new. This has gone on since forever, it's jsut getting worse, more perverse.

Read through the list of food staples for which we can be 100% sure that farmers will soon earn less, while the supermarkets continue to increase their profits based on lies. They do it without flinching, as a matter of course. They do it without any social conscience. They exercise their practices with the type of amorality for which we would tar and feather other organizations or other individuals.

Price Check ...

(Notice that this article is not a critical piece. It's softening us up for more spurious price increases, which is exactly what the major supermarkets rely on the MSM and journalists to do, and the latter comply, like fools.)


  1. Another trick they have is to use labels as an excuse for price-hikes, taking advantage of a customer's well-meaning gullibility while not passing on what they earn to farmers. 'Fair Trade' goods, or 'Environmentally Friendly' goods, or 'Organic' food would be three examples where this has happened.

    I read an article in Harpers some time ago saying that in the States, Walmart would sometimes force farmers to sell at below-market prices because the threat of them withdrawing their business was just too great. And the supermarkets do it over here, too.

    They're notorious for their slimy tactics, supermarket chains, aren't they?

    I'm not sure about The Age article, though - 'basic food stuffs could soon become luxury goods' makes a hard-hitting headline that's likely to appeal to the sensibilities of a lot of their readership, but it sounds more like scare tactics than good journalism to me.

  2. Aahhhhhhhhhhhhhh!

    Lost my comment Timmy.


    Will try to write it again later.

  3. I wasn’t suggesting that this was a great piece of investigative journalism Timmy. For junk like this they should be getting kickbacks from the supermarkets.

    Notice how they didn't take the obvious opportunity to expand - in any manner - on what the farmer had to say?

    "Fair Trade" and "Organic".



    Did you know that it costs farmers in those poor countries thousands of dollars, which must be the equivalent of at least a year's income to them, to become members of the "fair trade" family?

    They also have no choice but to agree to become "organic", with the inherent much higher costs and risks of doing so.

    Of the $15 I would pay at my local supermarket for a SMALL jar of "fair trade" organic coffee, how much goes to the farmer? A few extra cents per pound of beans.

    The price is nearly double that of the other organic coffees, and looks and tastes exactly the same, and the farmer gets a tiny bit extra from an almost 50% price mark up on the shelf price.

    Bloody disgraceful.

    Both Coles & Safeway have taken a shortcut to forcing producers to sell at or below market price Tim: they have "home brands" taking up so much shelf space that they simply don't stock a lot of brands that you used to be able to get, period. To stay in business, many of those producers now package for the home brands, for significantly reduced profit.

    Can anyone explain to me how Coles has Coles brand fresh food? Do they grow their own tomatoes and potatoes out the back?

    No doubt farmers are agreeing to sell at next to nothing, and Coles package the produce in their company colors. What the hell kind of idiot consumer willingly buys "Coles Brand mangoes"? Stoopid, stoopid, stoopid!

    It's all quite appalling, truly it is, and I haven't even started on about the price of a nice lamb loin chop yet!

  4. Anonymous11:57 AM

    And the quality is just not there either, Caz.
    There is no way that I would buy my fresh produce from a big supermarket chain anymore.
    Had enough of soft cucumbers and over ripe tomatoes.
    Generally, not so FRESH food at all.
    The habit of wrapping everything in plastic is also off puting.
    Radish's and spring onions for example.

    No, "Mr Fresh" at my local small shopping centre is where I go.

    All their produce is sourced from WA.
    If they are unable to obtain the product locally, then they will obtain it from the the Eastern States.
    In some cases produce may be of the imported kind when it is not available here in Australia.

    However, it is alway clearly labeled as such.
    eg Garlic from Mexico.

    Everything really is very fresh.

    This store has one awards year after year for best fresh produce.

    The part owner of the store says her husband goes everyday to the markets to select the best produce..

    Of course the obvious downside is that you pay much more for quality and freshness.

    But gee, it certainly is worth it.

    I finally realized sometime ago, that buying poor quality produce and having to turf it out after a day or two, was not really very economical at all!

  5. Anonymous11:59 AM

    That should have read "won awards"

  6. Agree entirely Kath, my shopping method it the same.

    Why buy produce cheap (or bulk!) if you'll have to throw most of it out because it's gone icky before you get a chance to eat it?

    "Of course the obvious downside is that you pay much more for quality and freshness."

    But that's the problem: with fresh produce, it's not at all obvious why this is the case, and most of the money still doesn't end up in the farmer's pocket!!

    Sure, he might get .46 cents a kilo, instead of .36 cents, but the mega price mark-up for "good quality" goes straight to all the "middle men" Kath.