Groceries: The Scary Truth

Groceries: The Scary Truth

How often do you swan down the aisles of your local supermarket? As a consumer, it’s incredibly easy (and convenient) to simply toss in a variety of ‘stuff’ that makes up the weekly shop without a second thought as to where the items have come from.

These days, most of us check what’s in a product – nasties, calories, gluten and whether it will have consequences if we serve it to the neighbour’s allergy-prone kid.

But do we ever think broader? Where did the product originate? Is the price justified? How long has it been on the shelf?

Retail giants dominate the grocery sector in Australia, as much as 80% of it. That’s a huge chunk of an industry – what’s to stop them making, and breaking, all the rules? While appearing to fight for the customer under the pretence of ‘savings’, the smaller independents have no choice but to follow suit and drop their retail price.

The issue here is that their margins are smaller and if the same pattern continues they’ll simply go out of business. Long term, it’s just not a viable strategy. This is great for the giants, as their market share increases. But what it means for the consumer, is even less choice when it comes to the variety and cost of their purchases.

If you look at the research, the larger supermarkets seem to be the cause of price hikes, which is the opposite of what they promote in their ad campaigns. There’s less variety available on the shelf with a huge shift in marketing towards their no-name products. It’s obvious – this means branded products receive less attention.

When you look at fresh produce, what’s rarely considered in the purchase cycle is how fresh are the products. Large supermarket chains have huge, national distribution networks. The products certainly don’t get from farm to consumer on the same day. Even the next day. This begs the question – how long have the products been in storage? Weeks? Months??

Independents often support local. Their produce is bought directly from the grower or markets either the same day, or at least that week, and at a price that’s supporting growth for all businesses involved. Not just making the rich, richer.

So, when you sit down to a steak barbeque or create a divine vegetable frittata for the family, consider who it is you’re supporting with your shopping habits. Do you want retail giants dictating your every move or would you prefer an even playing field where everyone stands a chance?

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