Tuesday, 24 June 2008

Tesco, Asda & The Others

Photo: Route79

I’ve just finished doing my online shopping with Tesco and once again I felt a bit saddened as I pressed the ‘order’ button. I really don’t like shopping with them, or any of the other supermarket giants for that matter, but needs must. I’m just not able to get around the shops easily enough to do my shopping at the market and in local, independent stores so Tesco it is.

Richard’s good. He goes to the local butcher to buy most of my meat and often dashes all over town looking for something in particular that I’ve asked for, but I can’t expect him to rush about doing my fortnightly shop that way. Or even send him off on a more regular basis, for that matter. He has his own life, too. And anyway, I couldn’t even get everything locally if I tried - there just aren’t enough independents left.

The trouble with Tesco, Sainsbury, Asda and the likes is that they’re ruining local economics. Farmers can barely afford to survive on the prices they’re paid and with the giants selling about 70% of food in the UK, they don’t have a lot of choice other than to sell to them on their terms. Local businesses are pressed out of the market leaving our towns filled with clothes shops, mobile phone shops, and other ‘chain stores’. There are few independent grocers, butchers, bakers, or candlestick makers left. And apparently, for every superstore that opens there’s a job loss of around 200-300 thanks to the small traders and their suppliers being put out of business. Is this really what we want? Has the convenience really been worth the consequences?

As well as their suppliers, they pay their floor staff a pittance. Let’s face it, the minimum wage is NOT a decent income. Whereas an independent store owner and his staff are merely making a living, the supermarket giants sweep up our money and pack it off to the shareholders, far away from the local community. How much money do the Walton family have? More than £100 billion, that’s how much! (In case you don’t know, they own Wal-mart, which Asda is part of). Just how selfish are these people?

Sure, they all like to be seen to be doing their bit for the environment. They offer to recycle our plastic bags and our local Tesco even has a wind turbine to provide the energy it uses but they still over package their products, and they still pay their suppliers and employees far too little. And they still import too much food. And they still deliver my shopping with some carrier bags containing just one item!

Apparently, Tesco are now considering removing their logo from their trailers because, with the rising price of fuel and the ever looming oil crisis, they don’t want to be seen on the roads too often. Crafty devils!

Still, my shopping will no doubt arrive safely and once again I’ll have been part of the problem rather than the solution. Sigh….

Sharon J


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Catz said...

Hi Sharon!

A few months ago I joined an "avoid the supermarket" challenge for a month, it was very enlightening! I used local farm shops for meat, dairy and green groceries, market for fish, cheese, herbs and some sauces and oils, a local mill for flour and oats, local chemist for meds, shampoo etc., the main difficulty was tinned products like baked beans and tinned tomatoes etc and tea and coffee and I had to use Costco or poundland for these. The really surprising bit was that I saved money!!!! didn't expect that! Also some of the stuff was home delivered!

Pat said...

100 billion pounds? Just how much money do one family need? They couldn't even spend all that if they tried. Such an unjust world we live in.

New Leaf said...

Tescos always makes me shudder these days. I know it's not always easy to shop where we'd like to buy our stuff. You do your bit Sharon and that's probably 100 times more than most people and needs must when the devil drives!

I do my best to buy locally, but I get my basics at Lidls. (yeah I know food miles), We have the choice of Stresscos, Painsburys or Mundane-issons in our local town, None of which inspire me, they just make my blood boil with their wastefulness and over packaging. At the end of the day I live on a tight budget, have a family to feed etc. I buy my meat at a farm shop, order home delivered organic veg and buy Fairtrade items. I'm not purist about my greening up, I just do my best with like minded folks. It's no good beating yourself up about it, just think of the positive actions you are taking. :)

Richard said...

Asda was formed I think as a coop by some Yorkshire farmers (this is from memory, the internet is very slow here in the library). I'm fairly certain it stands for ASsociated DAiries. The farmers started it almost as a farmer's market on a large scale in order to trim third party costs to the bone and give value to the punter. It's the biggest and grossest irony in supermarket trading that this once noble enterprise is now owned by the greediest family on earth

Catz said...

You are absolutely right Richard, I used to work for Asda many many years ago and they were at that time proud of that heritage! They sold their retailing "soul" when they let Walmart take them over!

Sharon J said...

You're obviously did really well, Catz. Did you manage to keep it up, or at least in part?


You're right Pat, it is an unjust world but I don't think that will ever change. Greed is part of human nature, it's just that some are more greedy than others. Luckily, some understand the difference between need and want and are also able to control it.


Love the supermarket names, New Leaf! I'm not a purist either (couldn't be even if I wanted to be) but I hate it when I know I'm doing something that's against my own principles. Thanks for the support, though.


That's really interesting, Richard. I didn't know that. Were they formed while I was off gallivanting in another country? I can't remember them being around before I went. You can't help wondering why they sold out, can you? That old chestnut called greed, possibly?

Catz said...

I still try to shop at places other than Strescos etc (love the names too! lol) I still get my flour from the local mill which is close by, also still get the organic veg box as I could also get eggs, milk etc from them delivered to the door although at a price. We go to costco every 3 months and order from goodness Direct for our bulk buying and I often look in our local chemist for the bargain £1 shelf for shampoos etc., I do find it cheaper to shop this way (I think the supermarkets con us into thinking they are the cheapest) but like you, I find my illness restricts me at times, I don't like to ask Mr C to go shop around for me either as he is a very busy man and he is happier at "painsburys" so we too have to compromise when I am ill. I think that if our heart is in the right place we can both be forgiven!

Sharon J said...

How I'd love to be able to do my shopping that way, Catz! You're obviously still doing great :)

You're right about our hearts... we can only do what we can do. I don't usually beat myself up over things that I can't change (better to use that energy on the things I can change) but for some reason I was feeling quite miserable about using Tesco this week. I suppose it's because there's been so much focus on the oil thing and how we should shop locally that it just got to me.

Still, chin up. I'm doing what I can and once I'm stronger I'll be able to do more :)