The cost of supermarket shopping

July 11th, 2007 | Uncategorized

Let me start by saying that I actually like supermarkets – I belong to the minority of males who quite enjoy wheeling a trolley up and down the aisles!

The choice of goods in UK supermarkets is mind-boggling (especially when compared to the somewhat limited selection that we have here in Galicia). I also have to admit that supermarkets have been instrumental in promoting competitive pricing, albeit sometimes at the expense of local traders. Unfortunately our small local shop does not enjoy the same purchasing power, and, regrettably, it is this very power that can sometimes be abused……

We regularly hear of desperate UK dairy farmers being forced out of business as they are obliged to sell their milk to supermarkets at below their cost price – although it would now seem that this problem is slowly being addressed with the promotion of locally produced milk. Likewise with local fruit and vegetables – as the high street giants now scramble to reduce their carbon footprint they are increasingly supporting their local producers. All very positive news.

I am however puzzled by the ‘fair trade’ range of products carried by many chains, simply as this phrase appears to imply that the rest of their trade might not be as fair as it should be! Maybe I am just reading too much into this?

The bad news is that the “supermarket squeeze” on pricing has now filtered through to the wine trade too. The following text is an extract from an article in the UK’s Daily Telegraph, and relates the story of Southern French producers:

Mr Bourchet is just one of many small-scale “vignerons” (wine growers) in the Languedoc and Roussillon region who are prepared to grub up to avoid bankruptcy after three years of losses.
He said times were so bad that several winegrowers had committed suicide since the beginning of the year.
Local wine producers are furious that their sale prices have been slashed by around 50 per cent while wine prices in shops and supermarkets have not dipped. A litre of vin de pays is sold for as little as 0.35 euros (24p) and costs 10 times that amount in supermarkets. “Someone is pocketing the difference and we want to know who,” he said.

My message to the supermarkets….. don’t forget to support your (not so local) wine producers too!

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