‘Cost reduction’ is a pernicious trade that runs through much of the food industry. It erodes quality by boring in like a bo-weevil into a product’s integrity. Nothing happens overnight, just a little chip away here and another there, and come five years down the line, the product bears little resemblance to the original.
Nobody will come clean and admit its happening. If they are brought to book, the chances are they will say their prices are being driven down by their customers – so again, the big 4-5 supermarkets take the rap.
Retailers using their take it or leave muscle to pay for food at prices lower than cost of production is another story again – and one I will be coming onto very soon.
Our problem with cost reduced foods is that none of us keep a marker sample, so the erosion happens and only those with good memory and a sharp palate will ever be aware. If you suspect a brand you buy is doing this why not keep a sample and buy another every 9 months or so - then compare the original sample to the latest after around four years?
This post links well with the other I wrote about food technology (March 5) where ingredients are used in food manufacturing that are just not available to the home cook. A simple recipe that we’d make with a handful of ingredients, suddenly lists 30 or more when it’s put in a packet and on shelf. We don’t know what they are and we can’t buy them either – not that we’d wish to.
It is so easy to sidestep all this underhand dealing. Stop buying prepared foods in any shape or form. Your purse will benefit and you will eat better tasting foods. It’ll give you a good feeling too. Also, when you do recognise, or even sixth sense, a product’s quality has been devalued, complain – complain to the retailer and write to the boss of the company concerned.
Don’t let the faceless cost accountants determine what food you feed your family. Phone the company and get the name of the boss – you want the managing director or chairman. Write or email a balanced complaint – don’t please rant because they’ll bin it.
In most cases you’ll have a wishy-washy reply from someone called the Customer Relations Manager. Simply write again to the original addressee, including a copy of the Customer Relations letter. You took time to write to the MD or chairman, so it’s the MD or chairman you have every right to expect to hear back from. Don’t be bought off with carefully chosen words telling you that Brand X upholds the highest of manufacturing standards, taste is paramount, etc. Do not accept vouchers, ever – they think you can be bought off.
Companies who employ this underhand trade in product devaluation by cost reduction know they are doing it. They must be brought to book. They are also fools as they chase the short term gain and squander their integrity – selling the family silver comes to mind.
Sadly it’s not an illegal trade, as long as they don’t mislead saying they are using a superior ingredient to that they are actually employing.
Also, tell your friends and work colleagues whatever the outcome – tell them the company has responded positively and well – tell them also when the company has behaved badly and not taken you seriously.
I’m tracking a bread company at the moment and it’s quite shocking what I am finding – and I don’t even eat their product. It’s like a race to the bottom, as if the bottom was lined with gold not silt.
People Power is no cliche. Our problem is most people are too busy to complain and the companies continue to cost reduce – usually in parallel with price increases. Now that’s really cheeky behaviour – lessen the quality and up the price.
Funny how this never gets written about in the national media too. Ask yourself why.
F’Quennelle say we No Compromise Shoppers and Blue Collar Gastronauts. There are too few who know and care about taste in the food industry – and far too many bean counters.