30 June 2017

10 Good Reasons To #SupermarketSwap Now!

Nigel: Serious about #SupermarketSwap

I am right in the middle of reading a very informative book about Supermarkets and the amount of power they have over the food industry and how the more we spend in them, the more power they have and the less choice we have.

The book is called Shopped. The Shocking Power of British Supermarkets and is written by Joanna Blythman, a leading investigative food journalist. The book was written in 2004 and things have disintegrated a lot further since then! Take for example two pieces of news this week,

The first being that Sainsbury's have announced in a meeting with Fairtrade Farmers, that they are going to create their very own brand of Fairtrade, their own Fairtrade label and they will put in force their own regulations and monitor themselves. The Fairtrade Farmers are extremely concerned that there will be no Fairtrade premium and that there will be no minimum guarantee and that the public will be confused about what Fairtrade is really about. Supermarkets take the Fairtrade Logo and use it on some of their products and yet happily screw their British suppliers into the ground by negotiating lower prices retrospectively and other massive companies like Nestle, will put a Fairtrade logo on some of their products and yet insist that access to clean water is not a human right and tempt African Mums to bottle feed instead of breast feed!  So, from taking small steps to support the ethos of Fairtrade, the supermarkets are now beginning to do what they usually do, take someone else's great idea, let that someone else pay for all the development that goes into it and then just do it themselves, where the only way they measure their success is profit and the bottom-line, rather than any ethical aim, or the long-term viability of a community, or of the world.

The second piece of news is that Tesco would like to buy out Booker Wholesale. Booker Wholesale actually supply independent shops across the UK! It doesn't take a genius to work out that this is going to make it virtually impossible for any independent using Booker Wholesale to be able to fairly compete with Tesco. Tesco has this week asked the Monopolies Commission if they could possibly speed up the investigation into whether they can go ahead with the transaction or not. Some board members have resigned over this idea and not one shareholder has been heard to show any enthusiasm over the idea, from reports online.

10 Good Reasons To #SupermarketSwap Now!

1/ You'll spend money on local traders who will pay tax, if they earn enough and then in turn will spend their money on other local businesses in the community, thus contributing far more to the local economy per pound than any supermarket.

2/ You'll enjoy a more personal service, where the number one aim is not necessarily to make a profit but to create a long term relationship that is a win/win situation for everyone, the supplier, the business and the consumer.

3/ No long queues. Mainly because everyone is standing in the supermarket queue and not in the independent shop's queue!

4/ You'll buy little and often, which is much better as there is less food waste and buying in an independent means you are less likely to over buy and over spend on stuff that you didn't want anyway. Read more about the waste generated by supermarkets, in an article by Joanna Blythmann, the Journalist who has written the book I am reading at the moment!

5/ It's good to support a local family that you know personally and you know they are getting your money, rather than a few directors at the top of a chain, that already have lots of money.

6/ You can ask an independent trader to get an item in that you specifically require and they will do their utmost to get it in, or point you in the right direction to another independent business.

7/ Each independent shop has it's own unique atmosphere that lends a unique character to our high streets across the UK. A local shop has its own individual brand of personality that stems out from the proprietors running them. A supermarket is a clinical practical place, there is no joy in Supermarket shopping,for most people. Going into an independent shop is a whole experience in itself, you connect with the shopkeeper at least and even with the other customers. Which leads onto my next point...

8/ Community! A good high street filled with independent shops, like the one we have in Shepton Mallet is an easy way for individuals to access the community, without actually knowing anyone in the first place.

9/ To promote choice. If the supermarkets have a monopoly, they can then charge as high as they like prices to the consumer and pay as low as they like prices to their suppliers. Every time you make a concerted effort to divert your spending into a local business, you are helping to shape the high street.

10/ Supermarkets want you to see them as the answer to your shortage of time and sell you pre-made meals at a premium but it really only takes a few minutes to create a dish from scratch with fresh ingredients bought from your local market, or shop. If you buy smaller amounts less often but better quality and containing better nutrition, those cheap rows of custard creams and fizzy pop look less and less attractive, especially when we take into account the unaccounted for costs to our environment, our health and our communities.

In Shepton Mallet high street, we have the Friday Market every Friday and independent shops up and down the high street, as well as some great charity shops too. Now is the time, more than ever to make one small change to your shopping habits. I am not saying that you should completely drop your supermarket shop, I am just saying try to challenge yourself and make a small change. When you are in a supermarket or chain, put just one thing down and come and get it on the high street instead.

When you find yourself in my shop, ask yourself what you can get from us that you would normally get from the supermarket and get it from us instead.

If you don't find what you want, order it in, talk to us about it! If you don't have the time to come in, tell us what you want and we will bring it round to you.

We can all decide that it's not worth taking up the challenge, we can all decide to keep shopping in the supermarkets and we can let our high streets slip away but we have to do something to challenge the way things are, the cost of your food is not just the price you see on the label, it's the price you pay with your health, your children's health, the well-being of our community and of our world!

You have the power of the pound in your pocket, please use it wisely.

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