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August 19, 2016

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droog

I agree in part with this but I have doubts.

The supermarket business model in itself relies in stocking items with long shelf life, specially non-refrigerated ones. You can argue that there are plenty of healthy "dry" items that keep in the shelf but a)they don't make up a healthy diet and b) many of the healthy ones will have low profit margins. Ready made meals go for more than the sum of the ingredients and so on.

So I think these companies would contradict themselves if given enough time to think about what they are saying today.

Matt Moore

You are correct that such issues, and only such issues, are the proper concern of politics.

However, I'm not sure the supermarket situation is an example of it. They are currently competing to provide what people want (tasty food very cheap).

They want to be banned from competing on margin, and instead forced to compete on quality. This is a cartel-lite. They are asking for the government to enforce a cartel that promises not to provide cheap products, but only expensive ones, in order to minimise price competition.

PS the blanket solution to conspicuous consumption arms races is a progressive consumption tax.

Matt Moore

PPS

'If all companies try to pay above-average wages to attract the best CEO, the result is no better quality of management but ever-rising salaries. The same thing is true for football transfer fees.'

That is only true if the supply of such labour is fixed. I don't think that is true in the long term.

Anarcho

"That is only true if the supply of such labour is fixed. I don't think that is true in the long term."

CEO wages have been rising steadily for the last 30-odd years -- what is the definition of "in the long term"?

Over that same period wages have been steady while productivity has risen -- not a coincidence, as senior management have been monopolising the value created by their workforce for themselves.

And all this dates from when the state turned on the unions in both the USA and UK -- again, not a coincidence.

Phil Beesley

Droog: "The supermarket business model in itself relies in stocking items with long shelf life, specially non-refrigerated ones."

Human beings have always operated this way, to survive or make a profit or travel. Scientists at the British Antarctic Survey eat hen eggs which are six months old (apparently they are a bit smelly but taste OK; eggs, not the scientists). Egyptians couldn't have built the pyramids without stocks of grain to feed workers. Today supermarkets sell chilled (non-frozen) ready meals with a shelf life of four-plus weeks -- and you are more likely to contract food poisoning from a sloppily cooked fresh chicken than a microwave dinner.

The fact that supermarkets wish to extend food life doesn't mean that the result is dangerous, less nutritious or tasteless. Supermarkets -- or perhaps we mean suppliers who make or grow the stuff -- will play a system if it can be gamed. But big brand supermarkets will not intentionally sell food which makes you throw up the next morning.

If there is a food arms race, it is being conducted by suppliers to fast food shops, to caterers who don't have an army of supply chain inspectors. Who is the most likely buyer -- often innocent -- in a scam to sell pet food as chicken nuggets? If we care about food safety, we have to think like 1800s campaigners against adulteration.

The horse-as-beef scam was about well organised conspiracies -- multiple scammers -- beating a regulated market.

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