01.03.08, An open leter to the Supermarkets

Please revise your ideas of the discrimination of a high proportion of the people shopping with you. We’re not all mindless sheep, or obsessed with the cheap and cheerful. A lot of us were once good cooks, who are now reduced to being on our own, or just two of us, whereby cooking meals is no longer as viable or as economical as it was. There seems to be a policy whereby you introduce a new product on the food shelves, that has been carefully designed, tested, its packaging made as attractive as possible and the price is generally reduced as an introduction. We buy it, we try it, and we’re sold; it is all that it says on the tin, and so it becomes a staple, something we propose to eat, maybe once every three weeks. The honeymoon generally lasts about three months, then the price rises, but we don’t mind because we think we are still getting value for money, but then subsequently the quantity and quality starts to decline but not the price. This has happened with a number of products, staples and prepared food. For a year or so you are buying a particular article, say corned beef, Pacific salmon, tinned ravioli or maybe a Chinese meal. Then one day, the label changes, the price may stay the same or go up, but the contents of the tin or container, has definitely gone down. Ultimately not only has the quality and much of the flavour gone down, but the quantity has also gone down.There is more liquid in the tin than heretofore, if liquid is usual, the salmon looks as though it could be farmed, not wild, because of the increase in fat, and also made of the tail because of the size of the pieces and the amount of the skin. What is really aggravating is that you the purchaser have to start searching all over again, even elsewhere, to find another product of the same type to replace what you are now rejecting, and of course there is disappointment.

In the prepared meals department, almost invariably the size of the packaging and the printed picture cause one to expect more than is realised, in quantity, quality and taste, often by a big margin.I have found old-fashioned English dishes like steak and kidney with so much chilli in it, it killed the taste of the kidney, and indeed chilli seems to be a staple ingredient in a good deal of these prepared dishes. There is a marketing ploy in television, whereby the people determining the programmes operate on the principle that if you don’t like it, you can switch off. In the case of supermarkets, I suppose we can vote with our feet. Finally what really drives me crazy is this policy of changing the positions of the items, even scattering some of one kind in different parts of the supermarket, thus making them still more difficult to find. I know the principle is that it encourages you to see things that you didn’t anticipate, because you have been hunting for the last 20 minutes for something you normally found in a minute and a half, having fruitlessly looked along a few hundred yards of shelving. When so many articles of different brands are on offer, and there are so many miles of shelving, it can take a lot of time, better spent on happier things, than looking for articles on the shelves, or someone to find them for you.

Categorized as General

1 comment

  1. Well said. Sentiments shared by probably every other supermarket shopper. You seem to think, tho, that the supermarkets exist to serve you, the customer, whereas the opposite is true. Ha! Silly old gaffer!!

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