Gransnet forums

Food

Are supermarkets controlling what we eat?

(150 Posts)
Tizliz Sat 25-Feb-23 09:56:53

So many food producers are stopping growing foods that the supermarkets don’t pay them enough for - read about apples and turnips this morning - that I feel my choice of food is in their hands. I am happy to pay for traditional English apples but can’t find any to buy. I would pay more for my milk, it is ridiculously cheap, to keep farmers in business. I am sure that we will end up importing more and more food as our farms lie idle.

It is getting stupid, I live in Scotland but the beef in the supermarket here is Irish. I have no choice but the supermarket, only a Spar in the village I live in. Tesco rules 😢😢

nanna8 Sat 25-Feb-23 10:20:59

I haven’t noticed anything different over here except when we have floods and fires and crops get destroyed. Usually just temporary when that happens. I don’t buy overseas produce unless absolutely forced to, never those American oranges and I avoid Mekong fish. One exception being New Zealand.

Sago Sat 25-Feb-23 10:56:59

Yes they do control what we eat and the way we shop.
There is a big correlation between obesity in the UK and the growth of supermarkets in the 1980’s.
If you broke down the square footage in a supermarket that’s devoted to processed and ultra processed food it’s frightening.
I do use a supermarket but primarily for tinned goods.
I have access to a great market for fruit, veg, eggs etc and a brilliant butcher.

Callistemon21 Sat 25-Feb-23 11:01:51

nanna8

I haven’t noticed anything different over here except when we have floods and fires and crops get destroyed. Usually just temporary when that happens. I don’t buy overseas produce unless absolutely forced to, never those American oranges and I avoid Mekong fish. One exception being New Zealand.

I think you get more of a variety grown in your own country because of the climate differences from state to state, although of course, transport costs are high.
It's avocado season at the moment 🙂

MawtheMerrier Sat 25-Feb-23 11:09:20

Yes they do and we have allowed ourselves to be led by the nose - tempted by lower prices than the local shops, the big weekly shop, the “convenience” of easy parking, out of season variety and the illusion of choice. 25 types of breakfast cereal - but who chooses them? The store buyer. My favourite Scott’s Porage Oats are possibly not even there or hidden behind rows and rows of overpriced granola and muesli!
We are duped into thinking we are getting a bargain - BOGOF- or yellow stickers but WE are subsidising these so called cuts.
This all came to a head (IMO) during the pandemic when I found my little -previously considered expensive - village shop stocked things which the on line delivery shops (Ocado and Waitrose) were rationing, assuming one could even get a delivery slot.
If it is not too late we need to try to buy (direct) from local suppliers or local shops and even rethink our shopping habits.

MerylStreep Sat 25-Feb-23 11:09:25

Supermarkets have always been very powerful lobbyists.
Now they are going further with that power.

www.independent.co.uk/climate-change/news/sainsbury-asda-waitrose-supermarket-clean-air-pollution-lobby-logistics-uk-zone-b839786.html

GrannyGravy13 Sat 25-Feb-23 11:22:24

Totally agree Maw we have had a little independent grocers opened along our High Street, the choice is amazing. The owners are Turkish with wonderful herbs, spices along with proper Turkish delight and other delicacies.

We use the local butcher and farm shop only use supermarkets for dry/tinned goods and cleaning products.

pascal30 Sat 25-Feb-23 11:33:47

Where I live there are many independent grocery shops and markets so it's entirely up to us what we choose to buy,and there is a fantastic range of products. I just use supermarkets for basics and am grateful I have the choice...

Callistemon21 Sat 25-Feb-23 11:40:33

We are duped into thinking we are getting a bargain - BOGOF- or yellow stickers but WE are subsidising these so called cuts

More often than not the farmer is subsidising the offers. In order to keep their supply chain going, they are at the mercy of the supermarkets.

www.theguardian.com/environment/2022/dec/02/uk-farmers-making-tiny-profits-as-supermarkets-boast-record-takings

Charleygirl5 Sat 25-Feb-23 11:49:24

I live in London and I have no idea where there is a normal butcher any more as all around here are Halal and I refuse to buy that meat so I am at the mercy of the supermarkets.

MerylStreep Sat 25-Feb-23 11:50:40

And who really has the power but don’t use it: us
Picture this. We all boycott the big supermarkets for two weeks.
Can you imagine if millions of us did that. The greedy bastards would soon take notice.

Norah Sat 25-Feb-23 11:51:57

Callistemon21

^We are duped into thinking we are getting a bargain - BOGOF- or yellow stickers but WE are subsidising these so called cuts^

More often than not the farmer is subsidising the offers. In order to keep their supply chain going, they are at the mercy of the supermarkets.

www.theguardian.com/environment/2022/dec/02/uk-farmers-making-tiny-profits-as-supermarkets-boast-record-takings

Indeed. I'd say regulations to farming and prices to farmers are control to what we eat and find available.

Shrub Sat 25-Feb-23 11:52:32

More food for thought
www.fruitnet.com/fresh-produce-journal/retailers-obsession-with-price-is-main-cause-of-produce-shortages/248419.article#.Y_kHesPqyl0.twitter

M0nica Sat 25-Feb-23 11:53:03

No they don't. Most people have been more than willing to sign up for the easy peasy, pop in the microwave way of eating. lets face it what we called 'cooking' when we were children is now called 'cooking from scratch'

Even in the deepest inner cities there are fresh food markets and they are generally cheaper than supermarkets. DD almost lived off her local vegetable market when she was a student living in Lewisham, that and marked down items in Tesco.

In nearly 60 years of shopping for myself and, later, family, my fruit and veg have usually come from the local market, whether living in London, a New Town, a big provincial town, or now in a more rural area. Since getting my first chest freezer in 1973, my meat has come from a butcher, either retail, wholesale, online, farm shop or producer.

There are even real bakers around, ones who do not load their bread with additives and steam it with a quick bake at the end to tart up the crust.

Supermarkets offer products and if nobody buys them they withdraw them. Look how a big supermarket will have a completely different range of goods in their shops depending on the area and region.

It is too darn easy to blame our bad habits on other people, especially food habits where food is such an important part of our health and people feel guilty for eating 'naughty' things, whcih seems to cover a lot of the food i supermarkets.

Eating well, requires some effort but not excessive and the easist thing to do is stop eating UPFs, read labels., and leave on the shelves those with lots of E and emulsifiers, colours and artificial swqeeteners. The owners will get the message. Read the country of origin on fruit and veg. Demand transparency on the source and breeding methods of themeat you buy - or just go down to your local market, or local food producer and shop there.

I have done this all my life through family demands and a fulltime professional career. It is not particularly time consuming but you do need to expendsome time gettig organised, after that it is sheer instinct.

But do not blame the supermarkets. the choice is in your hands.

Tizliz Sat 25-Feb-23 12:01:47

But do not blame the supermarkets. the choice is in your hand

Not if the growers stop growing because the supermarkets don’t pay them enough - then there is limited choice everywhere.

Katie59 Sat 25-Feb-23 12:09:28

It’s the price we pay for the convenience of supermarkets, you buy different, even cheaper, in local markets or farm shops, most of use don’t want the bother of several different shops,

Callistemon21 Sat 25-Feb-23 12:12:12

It's getting to farm shops for some that is the problem. They are not local. Markets? Very few proper markets are left around here.
Supermarkets lay on transport to their doors.

Cs783 Sat 25-Feb-23 12:14:06

I’m learning a lot about ‘The Way We Eat Now’ from a book of that name by Bee Wilson. It’s a balanced account of gains and losses in the food supply since about the 1960s but our choices have been restricted and manipulated, whether in the name of plenty or of profit.

Siope Sat 25-Feb-23 12:15:36

Monica, it’s not in my hands. I’ve always shopped locally until I moved to where I am now. My two nearest towns (both 10 miles from me) have no butchers, no bakers, no greengrocers, one deli with limited stock, nowhere for me to buy baking ingredients (I bake semi-professionally), no fishmonger, no cheese shop, one, one morning a week market which has no food stalls. There is a ga shop in my village, which sells eggs, and Christmas wreaths. I do have a choice of 2 Tescos, 2 Waitrose, 2 Aldi, Sainsbury, Lidl, and Morrisons though. And I live in a relatively affluent part of my county; poorer areas are pretty much food deserts, with one over priced convenience store and, if they are lucky, a major supermarket which puts on a free bus to further entice a captive market. This is replicated in many areas of the UK.

For those who haven’t read it, Tescopoly throws some light (or shade) on this issue www.hachette.co.uk/titles/andrew-simms/tescopoly/9781845295110/

Not connected with the book

Siope Sat 25-Feb-23 12:18:16

Must. Learn. To. Proofread.

Ga = farm. And ignore the last random words, althoug I am indeed neither author Andrew Simms, nor do I work for the New Economics Foundation.

MawtheMerrier Sat 25-Feb-23 12:18:22

I think we can hold the supermarkets to blame for screwing prices which they pay to suppliers right down to the minimum. The same used to happen with clothing like knitwear being supplied to M&S. A mill would be thrilled to get an exclusive contract which thet thought was promised to guarantee stability for the supplier. If any of the products failed to meet their exacting standards, the whole batch might be rejected so they would overproduce to provide a safety margin and sell the surplus in their factory shops. Many of us will have fond memories of bargains we found there.
With food it can't work the same way but again the big "piper" calls the tune. The supplier turns over their whole production to the big buyer who can then screw the price down for whatever reason given, reducing the profit margin to the supplier. Then there comes a point where it is barely economic to supply them, (look at milk which costs more to supply than the prices in some supermarkets) but the investment may have been made in machinery etc
So the supplier, whose costs may also have increased eventually loses the contract or goes out of business.
Cheap food at all costs has too long been the principle behind buying in this country and the supermarket giants have fostered this all along the way. Yes the consumer shares the blame but to get back to OP, supermarkets do dictate to a huge extent what we eat and how much we pay for it. If you have no access to local suppliers- and not everybody has access the lush pastures of the cotswolds on their doorstep or the market stalls of Borough Market. Transport costs contribute massively especially in remote areas. Ask anybody on Mull what their groceries cost!
Believe me, I know whereof I speak!

Casdon Sat 25-Feb-23 12:19:11

Monica the choice is only now in the hands of the better off. If you are bringing up a family in a high rise flat or in suburbia you don’t have those choices. Getting to a market isn’t an option if you’ve got young children in tow and it’s two or three miles away. Often the only choice is a supermarket or a very expensive corner shop.

Katie59 Sat 25-Feb-23 12:19:16

Growers have been put out of business by supermarkets for decades, there is now virtually no other market for produce. The companies that do grow vegetables are international. My son works for one it is Italian owned, and grows in UK, Italy, Spain, Morroco, Sierra Leone, Egypt, and Kenya, probably others too.

Don’t ask about food miles!.

katy1950 Sat 25-Feb-23 12:22:29

Yes I think they do they built a big tesco near my village it had a butchers deli fishmonger etc eventually all the small butchers in our village closed down fast forward 20 years and now tesco has shut its butchers fishmonger and deli so now the only choice we have are prepacked items

M0nica Sat 25-Feb-23 12:47:14

Sorry, Casdon. Totally disagree. I didn't learn to drive until I was 35. I did all my shopping in a new town walking everywhere, including with two babies/toddlers. Everything was in the town centre - including the corner shops!

In impoverished inner city areas supermarkets are few and far between. Street markets are often more prevalent and easier to access.

Visit a few. You will find a lot of mothers with small children there. Especially in inner city areas where there are more people from ethnically diverse populations who are used to market shopping and prefer it.

I currently shop in the market in a country town. Essentially the market is one large veg stall and a few other associated food specialists. The veg stall has one huge table covered in plastic bowls. Each has: a dozen oranges, 2 lbs onions, a large bunch of grapes, a butternut squash. All priced at a £1.00. It is food getting just beyond selling on the stall. I stock up there. While soft fruit, tomatoes etc may only be good for another 4 or 5 days. If I buy onions, or the squash, or root vegetables, apples, even oranges, they are still good for at least a week. The stall has a better selection of exotic fruit and veg than the local Sainsbury's and Waitrose - and at a fraction of the price.