How much choice do we really have?
I am just printing this story out as I write this so I haven't yet read it and don't have an opinion. It just seems important to look beneath the names and labels and have a more complete idea of what's going on.
The old adage about not having all your eggs in one basket leaps to mind. Are we all vulnerable if we are dependent on far fewer food suppliers that we assume?
Interesting read and even learned a few things (Coke owns Simply Orange), but overall, it likely has minimal effect on us. We consume very few processed foods and the ones we do are evidently not from the noted big producers for the most part. One place we do tend to buy from the big producers is with cleaning products & paper goods.
Foodwise, we do prefer Perdue chicken, Poland Springs water (Nestle), Land of Lakes butter, Orville popcorn and Garelic milk, but it's been many years since we've purchased much of anything else from most of these big producers.
That's probably because we primarily consume local fresh seafood, fresh meats, fruits and vegetables and seem to prefer the condiments, snacks, etc prepared by the smaller companies who produce much more interesting products.
Went through Walmart about a year ago to check out their supply, but found almost nothing worth buying - certainly nothing worth my time being there. Even our local grocery shopping is minimal at the big grocers with perhaps 10% of my shopping at Stop & Shop - primarily to get basic staples on sale.
I can't imagine consuming much from Coke, Pepsi, Kraft, Mars, Hershey, Del Monte, Kelloggs, etc, although they are evidently preferred in most households - typically not my choice.
Oddly, we tend to avoid these big-producer items yet we tend to have a below average grocery cost. We've averaged just below $100/week for the two of us for a good 10 years, including anything typically found in a big grocer (foods, paper goods, cleaning supplies, personal products, etc)
We are not more vulnerable than we were when there was less concentration in the food business, and far less vulnerable than in times and places when people were dependent almost entirely on local food sources. Think of the Dust Bowl, which spurred a mass migration to the west. Think of any number of undeveloped countries where famine from time to time has caused vast numbers of deaths.
Food costs as a percentage of family budget have gone down steadily over the last century in the US and other highly developed countries. We are no longer at risk of famine except locally, from time to time, in the event of a natural disaster. Even then, we have the ability to respond to prevent starvation.
As for "dependence," we have many alternatives to shopping at the largest supermarkets. There is far more choice and better food available than I had as a child in the 1950s.
Many consumers (still) believe bigger is better and/or believe if you pay a great deal more for something it must be "the best."
If you have the option of pricing around for the foods you buy and really focus on what you're buying with your money, you'll see that bigger isn't always better or best.
Marketing to the masses is where most food operators are focusing their investments. Once they have you, god help you. It takes willpower to retain choice.
Since economy of scale is a huge factor in reducing prices, I have little worry about our food sources.
And the significant downsizing of US Steel and A&P Foods did not impact the availability of steel or groceries in the USA.
Just a thought. Something quickly fills a market void.
Not trying to sound smug, but I am so glad to have changed my eating, cooking and buying habits years ago. Mostly organic and local and ethnic. But I have a lot of choices where I live. Some folks are not so fortunate. What really struck me in this...is that I don't buy almost everything on those lists.
This is one area where I am happy that I don't relate to this at all.
58,000 square feet is the size of the most recent grocery store to open in my area. The public has flocked to this store daily. It's not a new chain, it's not offering anything new to customers but the lure of grocery malls is far from over. Leaving the Goliath's even more power than before.