The Brand Variety Game – Choice or Compulsion?

Anyone who shops for groceries at Coles would have noticed the diminishing brand variety over the last few months – or you may be oblivious to it, if you only buy the brands that remain on the shelves. I used to whinge about it, and swore I would never shop there again, until I reconsidered the situation.

I admit I’m a bit of a brand loyalist, and I ran in to the nearest Coles one day to grab a couple of specific items in a hurry, and left with none of them. A lot of the products they had previously stocked were gone, and most items were down to two or three choices – Coles’ brand and one or two other well-known brands (Schweppes, Arnotts, Unilever etc.). And, you guessed it, most of “my” brands were no longer on the shelves. Hence, my boycott. (Apropos their choice of stocked brands, Schweppes also make the Coles-brand version of their soft drinks, and perhaps it is a similar story with other “low-variety” items.) Continue reading

Vegetable Oil Slick

The fight to encourage local produce sometimes seems futile against big business and globalisation. Despite the rhetoric of democracy, freedom of choice and consumer rights, it is always very obvious how little choice we do have when it comes to spending our own money.

Most of the “brand variety” you see on the supermarket shelves are owned by just a handful of companies – yet we’re led to believe that we’re “making a difference” by making a “choice”. If you buy Green & Black’s organic, fair trade chocolate because you want to make a difference to the “small farmers”, your money goes to Kraft, via Cadbury Schweppes. If you buy Bushells tea because you want to “support Australian”, your money is fed straight into the mouth of the global Unilever monolith.

It happens all across the world, and it’s not really news. What is becoming an issue is the increasing price the Environment pays for the Globalisation of Produce. Continue reading