SadButMadLad's Blog

Just another blog complaining about anything and everything

Pay more for food?

In repsonse to one of Timmy’s posts where he quotes from an article by Jay Rayner in the Guardian.

Look at the bags of perfect fruit, shiny, unblemished, the supermodels of the apple world. They only look like that because of the grading out of fruit which, while perfectly edible, is not comely enough for harried shoppers. … Which goes some way to explaining why Britain, a country perfectly suited to growing apples, now imports 70% of those we eat. …  but it is possible to reverse the numbers so that only 30% come from abroad, if we stop being obsessed over the look of the fruit and are prepared to pay more for what we buy, so that fruit farmers could invest in new varieties and the best storage techniques.

I don’t think we should be obsessed about paying more for our food. We should be obsessed about paying less. Paying less for food which doesn’t meet the exacting standard set by the supermarkets. Do we really need tomatoes that are within 1% of a specified size or they are thrown away – literally. Farmer’s aren’t paid for this food that doesn’t meet the standards.

Supermarkets have specified these exacting standards because it makes their job easier since they only need to have one price for a particular foodstuff. The consumer, given a choice about quality but no choice about price, will always choose the better riper rounder more colourful product. The supermarkets use this in their argument about why they do what do they do, but it’s a false argument.

If instead farmers were paid for this “lower quality” but still acceptable foodstuff, then they would be making more money. Maybe not at the same margin, but it’s still extra money which they aren’t getting at the moment. And consumers would win as well as those who are having to cut back their spending can still afford their food. Is it really necessary for everyone to have exactly the same quality of food?

Written by sbml

September 12, 2010 at 12:43

2 Responses

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  1. Why do they need to be thrown away? Take tomatoes – any not considered suitable for ‘front of house’ can go for canned goods or cooking sauces, surely? Or if supermarkets have in-house cafes, used in meals where it doesn’t matter what they look like.

    Or sold off at a cheaper rate to people like me, who’ll cook with them!


    September 16, 2010 at 18:38

  2. In many cases, sub-“standard” food is used in cans, sauces, etc. But there are just as many occasions, especially where the farmer has entered into a contract with a supermarket, that sub-“standard” food is litterly shredded and plowed into the field.

    Where the farmer can sell on the open market, they can and will sell damaged product cheaply. But the deals that supermarkets make with their farmers is not on the open market and the farmers are not allowed to sell any waste products.


    September 16, 2010 at 21:38

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