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Food in the News 27/4/09 – 1/5/09

April 29, 2009

Article from the FT suggests that the record profits announced by many supermarkets since the recession hit might have come at someone else’s expense. Why am I not surprised?

Tesco are making suppliers wait 60 days to be paid, rather than 30, and ASDA have, among other things, brought back e-auctions, where suppliers bid for a contract in a blind auction (“While the lowest bid might now win, it may be used as a starting point for the negotiations.”) and the NFU says farmers are noticing contracts are being altered retrospectively more often. I needn’t tell you that this moves me to murderous fury. I remember visiting a certain large supermarket last summer, during the peak of the food crisis, which proudly boasted that they were magnanimously cutting prices on fruit and veg. I couldn’t help thinking that there were sound economic and ecological reasons why food prices were rising and so if retail prices were being cut, someone somewhere along the line was taking a cut. I suspected this might be the suppliers rather than the retailers themselves (although I believe fruit and veg is often priced quite highly, in order to balance out the narrow profit margins on things like milk and bread, so there might be some room for manoeuvre) and now, guess what, I was right.

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This, on the other hand, is more reassuring. Apparently, if you make things from scratch, at home, from raw ingredients, instead of buying them ready-made, not only is it almost always cheaper but the food almost always tastes better. Gosh. Crucially, she doesn’t factor your time into her analyses, which is, I suspect, what puts most people off, and it was very revealing that no-one in her family liked the cream cheese because it wasn’t bland enough, but, still, it’s nice to see an article on credit crunch food that doesn’t essentially say, ‘Ha ha, people can’t afford to buy organic any more, they’re all eating at Domino’s!!’ (Which doesn’t even make economic sense. Domino’s is damned expensive.)

“It’s one thing to eat runny yogurt and flaccid bagels because they’re a bargain; it’s another entirely to pay for the privilege.”

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Finally, more seriously, Grist is investigating the possibility that swine flu might be linked to an intensive pig farm in Mexico. http://www.grist.org/article/2009-04-28-more-smithfield-swine/

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