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The Spy in Your Shopping

Discussion in 'Cookery' started by modelmaker, Nov 16, 2011.

  1. modelmaker

    modelmaker Occasional commenter

    Tesco very kindly sent my clubcard vouchers through last week enabling me to knock £43 off my shooping bill. They also told me I have £95 of unclaimed points on my account which I think might be due to one of my wives disposing of anything that looks like a circular as soon as she sees it. It prompts me to contact them and ask how I will be able to get hold of the £95 they've been looking after for me.
    All of this is very nice, but studying the other vouchers they sent, I was intrigued that thet were focussed on things we'd bought in the past, notably dog food and rabbit food, both in the Tesco brand we buy, and the pack sizes we buy.
    I commented on this with a colleague and she then checked to discover the vouchers she received were entirely different. She has neither a dog nor a rabbit so had vouchers for things she'd bought instead.
    I'm wondering if this is something to be worried about. Yes, it's great to get a quid each of dog and rabbit food, but where does it all go from here? The company is analysing our shoping habits on an individual basis. They know more about me than people who know me know. or to be more precise, are able to surmise more about me.
    Why are they taking so much trouble to make sure every little helps me personally?
  2. egyptgirl

    egyptgirl Senior commenter

    I don't have a particular problem with it - I am an adult and when I make a decision to join various schemes, I sign a piece of paper which allows them to do this.

  3. modelmaker

    modelmaker Occasional commenter

    It's true I moan about supermarkets, but it's not in a vindictive way. It's just about the power they have and whether or not what they supply is what we actually want or what they want to flog.
    My brother, a traditional butcher, was put out of business when a supermarket opened up near him. When I lived in Chatham, a supermarket opened and overnight destroyed 3 wet fish shops and two butchers' shops. They did it by offering a much wider choice of fish on an everyday basis, things you'd have to order in advance from the fishmonger like monkfish and pickled herrings, oysters and squid. As soon as the shops closed, so did the range of fish cease. This particular supermarket no longer has a fish counter and the aisle that was devoted to fresh fish has been reduced to a single cabinet selling packed fish, mostly things like cod in breadcrumbs.
    Supermarkets kill competition from small business yet they don't have a mechanism where you could order what they don't normally stock, rather than my asking a butcher or fishmonger if they could get some for me. They decided decided I can't buy a pig's head or brains any longer. They decide when they will offfer pigs trotters and oxtail, which of course, are available everytime a cow or pig gets slaughtered.
    They decide it's better to import veg from around the globe instead of selling what is locally produced.
    They decide how much space to give to fresh food, how much to give to frozen food and how much to give to prepared food. I'm saying they have the balances wrong. Virtually every food programme indicates they've got it wrong and programmes such as the Great British Food revival are fighting a losing battle. The supermarkets aren't listening. They can only comprehend the value of selling pre-prepared food or sauces with a celebrity chef's name and face on the container.
    They decide it's better to have an entire aisle devoted to crisps and another devoted to fizzy drink.
    So my complaint with supermarkets is that despite their claims they offer more choice, it's only choice among the things they decide are profitable to sell. 1001 choices of crisps and fizzy drinks. 4 choices of meat. 3 choices of fish.
    You might have a brilliant supplier locally, but the day the supermarket moves in, his days are numbered.
    So I'ved developed a general and justifyable cynicism of what supermarkets are all about, and when they start to manipulate my spending habits further, I ask what are they up to?

  4. nick909

    nick909 Star commenter

    Some good points, MM, especially re. the inability to order the things you want from a supermarket. A strong argument.
    My point is though - why don't you vote with your feet? I know from previous posts that you're not driving at the moment and are forced to rely on local supermarkets where small traders have vanished but why don't you buy online?
    There are many small traders, farmers, producers etc. who do mail order services. I'm sure there must be some fairly local to you. You've mentioned before that you shop online with Tesco sometimes, so why not transfer this business to someone far more deserving of your business, who'll have better produce of the type and cut you want, and will still deliver to your door?
  5. modelmaker

    modelmaker Occasional commenter

    Because I'm much more interested in the bigger picture. Of course, those of us who have the abiliity to but from local traders can choose where we shop, but it's only a question of tim how long this will be available. As I've I discovered, online shopping take you well away from the high street.
    You might be able to find a good supplier of rabbit or veal on the internet, or specialist pruduct, but why should the average punter have to seek them out? It's becommimg the point where you don't just have to love good food, it's a major exercise to buy the ingredients you need.
    And for the life of me I can't see why this has to be so difficult.
    Every one of the ingredients I mentioned exists, yet they don't frequently appear on the supemarket shelves
  6. Si N. Tiffick

    Si N. Tiffick Occasional commenter

    The poimnt is, the average punter desn't want those things. That's why they're not stocked in the supermarket. If you want them, you can get them in a few clicks of your mouse. I like that tesco send me vouchers for things I want now.
  7. nick909

    nick909 Star commenter

    The pleasure is mutual, MM.
    But nothing will appease them more than continuing to shop there.
    I think this is down to demand. I have a theory that once wartime rationing ended, people wanted to eat the best cuts of meat they could afford. There was a stigma attached to eating offal because of the pressures and negative feeling associated with rationing. Add to that, the government pushing for mass production of produce with far less regard for quality; quantity being everything, and you have a situation where previously unavailable or unaffordable cuts of meat, such as topside of beef and breast of chicken were all of a sudden affordable and so the demand went there. Years down the line, as people have lost touch with how to cook the cheaper cuts of meat and have become wary of unfamiliar offal, the demand is still there for the 'safer' cuts of meat, with relatively low demand for brisket, pigs' cheeks, lamb breast and the like.
    Think about it - if there was a demand for cheap cuts of meat, why wouldn't the supermarkets supply it? There would be no reason not to. They would be obtainable for virtually nothing from the suppliers, so they could still make a decent premium. Liver is still widely available - and cheap as chips. Because there is a demand for liver. My local Tesco have recently started selling lamb breast again. I can only assume this is down to demand. But - there is very low demand for pigs' heads. I know if I did a straw poll in my staffroom, I'm fairly sure not one person would state they they would like to be able to buy one; in fact I can almost hear the retching noises now. We might love them, but we're in the minority.
  8. landaise

    landaise Occasional commenter

    Why do French supermarkets stock rabbit, veal, hearts, trotters etc ? Quite simply because there is a demand for it and always willl be. There is also a refusal to eat out of season produce. On another thread, someone mentions eating new potatoes. Well, at this time of year I couldn't buy them anywhere because they are not in season ! Same goes for asparagus, green beans and peas.
    Very few people order online here, too. That service is only available to city dwellers and it's not popular simply because people like to see what they are buying and choose the way they want it. If you buy ham from the delicatessan counter you will be asked how thick you want the slices and you can frequently try before you buy in markets and supermarkets. When cherries are in season in April/May you will see customers choosing them individually, sometimes spending 20 mins to do this ( I've seen one determined lady do this !) No pre-packed bags of fruit and veg.
    Another thing is that the " centrale d'achat " which buys in the fresh produce is on a fairly local level, not on a national one. My mum worked for Safeway years ago and they only had one warehouse for the whole country ! A fairly small chain of supermarkets here has two warehouses 20 kms apart. Thus local demand is catered for. I couldn't buy lard anywhere here simply because where I live people do not use it. ( I don't, either, as it happens !) If things were bought at a national level, the supermarkets would probably stock it, throwing it away because it didn't sell.
  9. egyptgirl

    egyptgirl Senior commenter

    Supermarkets are not evil. They are simply supplying what is demanded. Not by everyone, but by some. People have different attitudes to food and supermarkets are catering to these for profit. That is their job.
    They might not stock pigs trotters because only 1 person in 10 demands them (as an example). The other 9 people might want spam fritters in their place. So, if you're running a business, what would you give your shelf space to?

  10. modelmaker

    modelmaker Occasional commenter

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