The old way?

I was about to finish my assignment last night, when this article hit me square in the face ‘Farmers feel the squeeze from supermarket deals‘ (at http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2015/may/10/farmers-feel-squeeze-supermarket-deals), first part. I am not anti-Aldi, anti-Tesco or anything like that. I know things ‘need’ to be cheap. I am feeling the brunt just like anyone else, yet in this day and age when we need jobs and when we need commerce, why settle? When I see “At some point we’re going to be forced to retire because of the prices”, I worry. I worry because I want a decent income to live and feed the family (the family being just me in this case). So why is the supermarket requiring cheaper food? So that it can waste most of it on infrastructure?

In my view, let the supermarkets go elsewhere!

In my view, Steve from Worcestershire’s Vale needs to talk to a driver and a few people. Start the old grocery stores again. When we can get decent groceries, whilst under those conditions, places like Woolworths can brag about making a net profit of 2.45 billion, then they obviously do not need to sell groceries. Let them fall back to second rate products. Let them waste away, whilst the people return to the grocery store. It will be a challenge, but in my days we went to the markets, we went to the grocery stores. You only need one central point where these people can get their wares and the people like Steve might have a better deal here. When I read “It showed that the number of small and medium-sized businesses supplying supermarkets and in “significant” distress has doubled in a year from 728 to 1,414“, I honestly wonder why people continue on this route?

When suppliers state, 5% more or get it somewhere else, yes, the supermarkets will change supplier, but it will take one bad one to make a supermarket lose their customers. Once the groceries go somewhere else, we will see that the shop next door might be the butcher or the milk and cheese shop. I say support your local shop in all manners, and getting the smaller places to reinvent decentralisation could go a long way in raising the UK economy in a much better way. In the end, a place like Woolworths only tickles its own board of directors with 2.45 billion, over 5000 shops this amounts to half a million each. So, yes, that was only profit and the story of cost will change, but it seems to me that 5000 shops implies 15000-25000 people working, that will also do the economy a lot of good. We have been enabling larger players too much and for too long.

Consider I mentioned 5000 stores, consider that Aldi has 560 stores and Tesco has 2,614 stores. That is a little more than 3150 stores. If they all lose the butcher baker and grocer, which means that we need close to 10,000 locations. (not even including the other supermarkets), in addition transport is needed, so it seems to me that even though my calculation is extremely skewed, we must consider that the day of mega markets are over. We need to start thinking differently if we are to face the challenges ahead in a survivable and in a more humane way. I am willing to forego supermarkets as long as there is a decent alternative (not too expensive). I feel that here in Australia that has been proven with Bakers delight and Lüneburger. If the baker can do that and move me away from supermarket bread then I feel certain that a butcher, grocer and cheese and dairy shop (or just a plain milkman) can do that too.

So as I see this quote “According to Jack Ward, chief executive of the British Growers’ Association, producers will have to get used to the new supermarket landscape“, I say Nay! Especially when he adds the quote “this has racked up the pressure on the supermarkets. They are fighting for their lives and have to go somewhere to get better prices“. When I see a supermarket chain making proud of 2.45 billion, your statement Mr Ward, is widely incorrect.

In addition there is the quote “Christine Tacon, whose job is to rein in some of the methods used by retailers to apply pressure on suppliers, such as charging for display space and delaying payment. In February the adjudicator announced an investigation into Tesco over its relationship with suppliers“, really. it seems to me (and to Deloitte) that certain paths had been going on for a while, so if that is true, then Miss Tacon had been asleep at the wheel and we should seriously look at new ways of moving forward on the way consumers get their stuff. There is also the other end. Bal Padda grows strawberries in the Vale of Evesham and she has a good relationship with Asda. This I do not oppose, there are clearly issues and over 1400 under such pressure is a clear indication that things are not well. The question is how to fix it. Perhaps in the end, a shift will happen and the supermarkets will have to change their way, perhaps fresh foods is no longer a guarantee, perhaps that must go outside those places (as likely must beef). By the way, when you buy fresh at the butcher it is also extremely conceivable that Equine Burgers are a thing of the past, just saying!

Consider the following: “I was making more money per kilo of lettuce 20 years ago. A box of courgettes went for £4 to £5.20 years ago; now it’s £1.80 to £2” Yet, Tesco online shows baby Courgettes to be £7 per Kg and other courgettes around £2 per Kg and lettuce at 50p each. Even when I was young prices were higher. I am all for affordability, but is this the way we should go? At the expense of our farmers? How unjust is that? It goes beyond that, the baker, the butcher the prices at Tesco (not the cheapest one) are indecently insane.

So, what is the solution?

That is the question I fail to answer this, perhaps some of the numbers needed to see the chessboard more completely are missing. You see, I stick by what I wrote earlier, I will go to non-supermarkets in a heartbeat, but in this economy I wonder if I can afford it, the only question remains. If some places get to place this quote “The UK’s biggest supermarket chain said group trading profit fell 6% to £3.3bn, with like-for-like sales down 1.4%“, we must wonder how we can make a fairer option for the farmers. They are not alone here (so is dairy and meat) yet they all should have a decent affordable solution that gives them a slightly better deal than they get now.

I wonder if anyone else has a better solution. It is my fear that if the UK is in the old proverbial stage of ‘bread and games’, what is being kept off the radar and what can we do to better the plight of some? Once a nation can no longer grow its own food, it becomes slave to whomever feeds them, which is something we never ever want to face.

 

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