Joined: May 23, 2011
Location: Midlands, South Carolina Zone 7b/8a
Producing ‘Real’ Food and competing with Safeway
Just finished listening to Podcast 124 where Paul talks about people who are producing real food and want to sell it at prices that are competitive with Safeway. It seems that there are a lot of people who want to do this and IN MY OPINION - they really need to change the way they are thinking and how they are thinking about their product.
Pretend it’s not food.
I want to produce a widget that is WAY better than the widgets produced in China. And I want to sell it at the same price (or less) than the ones produced in China.
1. The widget in China is produced using several thousand employees who work for peanuts per hour.
2. Because they are selling billions of widgets they can purchase supplies for production of widgets in MASSIVE quantities at a very cheap price.
3. These raw materials are also usually of inferior quality and use human labor that works for peanuts per hour.
4. The cheap widgets (in theory) have a guaranteed market and are shipped to cheap stores all over the world to customers who are only concerned about price – not quality.
5. That market sometimes fails so the widgets are sold at a loss to even cheaper discount stores.
If you replace the word food (or beef or watermelon) everywhere you see the word widget and this is a pretty accurate example of how our food system works. And yes, even entire boatloads of watermelon come to us from as far as China.
To try to compete with Safeway is not a sustainable goal. The idea of providing good food to people of all incomes is a very just and noble idea but in order for these people to have access to quality food they are going to need to adjust their expectations. In the ‘old days’ meat was not the staple food of the common person as it was too expensive. Only after finding ways to mass produce meat did it start showing up on every table.
When I was very poor and raising children we used meat for flavoring. There just was not enough money for everyone to sit down to a big slab of meat. As a matter of fact I really cannot remember one single time that the kids and I ate a steak for dinner. This is because I was poor and too proud to ask for government money – not because I was smart – so they accidentally had a much better diet.
So to get back to the original point: Trying to produce real food and be competitive with Safeway does no one any favors.
1. I would end up being my own slave labor or trying to find people to hire (exploit) for pennies.
2. There are people out there who are willing to forgo premium smartphone services or the latest tennis shoe in favor or healthy fuel for their bodies.
3. Local Markets and Quality grocers like the Rosewood Deli and Earth Fare in my area have stayed PACKED with customers in this depressed economy while mainstream grocers selling inferior cheap food have been going out of business left and right.