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The Foods That Make Billions

Discussion in 'Cookery' started by modelmaker, May 9, 2011.

  1. modelmaker

    modelmaker Lead commenter

    Did anyone watch this? Very interesting programme that looks at how billions of pounds are being made through selling essentially cheap foods, processing them to provide convenient forms to prepare and eat, branding and advertising them in ways that give consumers confidence and customer loyalty, packaging in a manner that suggests added value etc.
    3 foods were looked at, breakfast cereal, yoghurt and bottled water. Cheap to produce and giving huge profits. It helps you understand how and why these particular products take up such vast amounts of supermarket shelf space.
    It looked at the competition between branded names and supermarket own brands which interestingly, we are told, is largely a UK phenomina. Such is the profit to be made from cornflakes for example, it's worthwhile for supermarkets to produce their own and sell at 2/3rds the price of a pack of Kellogs.
    And it looks at the environmental impact. I couldn't help being reminded that a low-cost, own brand bag of cornflakes sold in a bag, i.e. without a box to contain the bag, looks cheap and unappealling. It doesn't allow the manufacturer to continue advertising at the breakfast table and made me recall that as a kid I would largely spend my time reading the cereal packs as I ate my breakfast. Knowing a little about the number of processes it takes to turn cardboard into a printed package, I wouldn't be the least surprised to learn it's as expensive to produce as the contents inside.
    One contributor said "One thing we cannot lose sight of is the ultimate absurdity of the bottled water industry. Here we have a world where people are dying of thirst, where people lack clean water to feed their children, and we're spending billions of dollars and huge amounts of energy moving water from people who already have it to other people who already have it."

  2. BelleDuJour

    BelleDuJour Star commenter

    Yep. I must say I do drink bottled water but only sparkling becasue I like bubbles in my water. I'd never drink bottle still water...............a rip off.
    OH thinks bottled still water is good, so good he won't hear of contaiminating it with ice made from tap water! Utter bollox!
    We beg to differ here but I will put him through a taste test one day, when I can be bothered!
  3. modelmaker

    modelmaker Lead commenter

    The only occasions I've bought bottled water for myself has been in Spain where what came out of the taps was a dark brown liquid and when I've asked for water in a restaurant and instead of a glass of it or a jug I was served with a bottle of "spring water" instead.
    I'd love for someone to explain how, what comes out of our taps in the UK when chilled is inferior to the mysterious water bottled from a rare stream in a remote location. What are you buying into?
  4. Si N. Tiffick

    Si N. Tiffick Occasional commenter

    When I was a student (many, many moons ago) and lived in the city, I used to buy cheap bottled water as the harder water tasted god-awful compared to the soft water back home. Alternatively, I would try to disguise it with diluting juice or lemons. To this day, if I am staying in a hard water area, I buy water. I odn't know how those in real hard water areas e.g. London can bear it.
    Interestingly, I have a friend who gre up in the city that I studied in, who now lives out in the sticks near me. She's never been able to get used to our soft water and yearns for limescale and no suds! I guess it comes down to what you're used to.
  5. modelmaker

    modelmaker Lead commenter

    We've been brought up on it and never saw it as a hardship. In fact I remember the first time as an aware adult I visited a soft water area and finding it astonishing how long it took to wash the soap away from my body. I too couldn't imagine how people were able to live their lives day in and out with all that extra work, day in, day out.
    But the programme wasn't only about water.
    It was more about how consumers have been manipulated into buying products they pay a premium for without a good reason why, from the consumer's point of view other than convenience, lack of objective thinking and a wilingness to accept that whatever they next find on the supermarket shelf will be better than they previously found and never questioned the reasons how or why but lappped it up all the same, because it was the latest thing. And so gradually the world we inhabit changes without sensible people having much of of say in it.
    If you watch any worthwhile cookery programme on the telly these days, and by this I mean the ones that don't revolve around a competition, you will find the chefs pleading that you seek out better quality raw ingredients than you might be acustomed to. Demand more from your food suppliers, look for sustainable ingredients. It's all entertaining stuff the real entertainment of the evening comes on which might be the blood and gore of a murder mystery or the light entertainment some get from the tap-dancing on ice-skates type of programmes that currently fill our screens.
    The choice of what you buy and feed your family with is ultimately down to you.
    I'd suggest most families fret more over which sofa to buy from DFS or which particular shade of magnolia to paint their houses with than they ever give attention to in what they buy. If it's new, it's obvously better, isn't it?

  6. modelmaker

    modelmaker Lead commenter

    "give attention to in what they buy to feed their families" is what I meant to say.
  7. landaise

    landaise Occasional commenter

    But, modelmaker, we in France are not paying a premium for bottled water. It's long been part of the culture to drink mineral water (highly inspected and controlled ). In Britain , it's a sort of fashion, probably due to holidays abroad, but it's a recent phenomenon.
    Your original post had me thinking about branding: recently saw a report that Germany has very few large chains of hyper/supermarkets as the Germans are not bothered about brands and even less about the so-called prestige of certain supermarkets. It's very different in Britain, isn't it? There are the Waitrose snobs and the " I'd never shop in Aldi " brigade. My parents do most of their food shopping (a lot of it ready meals, unfortunately) in M&S. They are adamant that " it's better quality" but how would they know that if they don't even try elsewhere ?
    OH heard on the radio yesterday that the French pay moderately high (when compared to Germany, Spain and Portugal) prices for meat and veg. The reason is they buy much better quality and prefer domestically produced products. That's not to say we don't have Spanish fruit and veg but it's not the first choice, people look at where the things are produced and tend to choose French over others. How many people in Tesco would be pouring over the origins of their tomatoes, green beans or even meat? Plus, it's highly unusual for French shoppers to seek out unseasonal produce.
    It's all about education, I think. Here, we know what's in season and when and we buy accordingly. Judging by what I saw on some UK online shopping sites, you're paying ridiculous prices for fruit and veg, let alone meat!
  8. Bethannie

    Bethannie New commenter

    As a child, most of our food was home-made from natural ingredients. I can remember the time that Mum made a complaint to the grocer and as compensation he gave her a box of food...including something we had seen in the shop, but never tasted....Mr Kipling Cakes! (We had plenty of cake - but always home baked).
    These days, there is just so much - perhaps too much? - available to choose from.
    I have a relative who is financially 'comfortably off' (although they constantly plead poverty!). Take-Aways are eaten at least once a week. Ready meals in the freezer all bear the 'Finest/Supreme/Extra' Labels - because they <u>must</u> be better quality, look at the price! Milk is filtered - not because of any concern about bacteria, or a desire for a longer shelf-life,or even out of a mistaken belief that it somehow tastes better - no, milk must be filtered because it is an 'improvement', the latest thing.
    At the butchers, I was stunned when the butcher was able to offer me some 'extras' free of charge...Apparantly, before Christmas people went to order their meat, they ordered a chicken/capon or a turkey and then asked the butcher to just give them the 'crown' and he could either keep or bin the rest of the bird...but they paid for the whole bird! These people had seen supermarkets selling 'crowns' so that was what they wanted.
    I remember my niece refusing to eat mashed swede. She stated quite firmly that she didn't like swede. Had she ever tasted it? No! But she 'knew' she didn't like it. That evening whilst watching TV an advert came on for a new soft-drink flavour and she immediately began whining that she wanted some. Had she ever tasted this new drink? No! But TV had told her that it was good, so she decided she liked it!
  9. landaise

    landaise Occasional commenter

    Not inferior, but when you know that London water has been through human bodies NINE times before you drink that glass, it puts me off rather.....
    Mineral water, by definition, has a specified minimum mineral content, guaranteed. Baby milk here gets its minerals from the bottled water made to make it up (and no need to boil it to 'sterilise' it first) In Britain, the minerals are in the powder, not the milk. If a baby can drink it pure, untreated, enough said.
  10. BelleDuJour

    BelleDuJour Star commenter

    All water has been through humans, animals, plants and whatever else. It's constant recylcing since time began. Even rainwater has been through this recycling. To think there's something magical and 'purer' about bottled water is ridiculous.
    I accept though that water from different sources has different mineral contents and may taste different, but tap water is completely safe!
    I just have to smile remembering the episode from 'Only Fools and Horses' where Del Boy bottled his own tap water under the label 'Peckham Water'. Says it all really!
  11. landaise

    landaise Occasional commenter

    I know tap water is perfectly safe, but our water is from a private source, pumped up and then treated in an outhouse, including softening (although not really necessary as the water here is VERY soft anyway)
    Mineral water is our choice for taste and also for the extra minerals (high magnesium in some brands helps prevent cramps in hot weather, for example )

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