The Dim-Post

February 24, 2014

The economics of homemade Thai Green curry

Filed under: economics — danylmc @ 8:42 am

Dita De Boni suggested in the Herald that the government set up its own chain of supermarkets that, like KiwiBank, introduce competition to a market that doesn’t seem to be working very well.

Matt Nolan hits back against the idea, writing:

Let us think about Progressive vs Foodstuffs a bit here.  If both organisations are thumping around their wholesalers, and the duopoly is competitive (due to the organisations selling a homogeneous product where consumers have good information about prices), then the lower cost for products is PASSED ON TO THE CONSUMER!

If Progressive is bullying, and Foodstuffs isn’t, then Progressive has a lower cost structure than Foodstuffs.  As a result, Progressive can bid down prices, but is likely to keep a large part of the surplus to themselves.  In this case, Foodstuffs is squeezed, and may lose market share, so they have an incentive to bully their wholesalers as well!

If neither firm bullies their wholesalers, they both just charge higher prices, and the consumer pays the difference.

So here is the thing.  We feel bad for the wholesaler being bullied by these big companies – understandably!  However, if we look at the issue more broadly, their bullying activity may well be reducing the price of some goods and services for the consumer.  If we force them to give up their bullying, the consumer then pays a higher price.  There are always trade-offs, let’s at least make a slight attempt to remember that – instead of pretending that government ownership will somehow come in and make everything magically better.

I’d just make one point here which is that its really easy to take a look at the prices at the supermarkets, compare them to competing vendors and see if bullying suppliers does lead to lower prices. And, like I’ve pointed out before, places like farmers markets and green-grocers are consistently way, way, way cheaper than the supermarkets. As an urban-liberal I need a steady supply of lime and coriander and spring-onions and these are usually available at the farmer’s market at around a third of the price the super-markets sell them for.

But, an economist could say: the supermarket adds value because I can buy things other than fruit and vegetables, like, say, coconut milk and and pistachios, and the overheads of building and running a gigantic supermarket are built into that cost. Which is true. But compare the cost of chippies, soft-drinks, chocolate and wine in the super-markets to the cost in your local dairy. It’s usually 100% to 150% more than the supermarket.

So products sourced from small local growers are far more expensive in the supermarket while products sourced from large corporations are a lot cheaper. That suggests to me that (a) suppliers get treated very differently depending on their size and (b) the lower prices being gouged from small, local suppliers aren’t being passed onto the consumer.

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48 Comments »

  1. The most interesting thing for me is how much cheaper the veges are at Farro Fresh in Grey Lynn than the Countdown that’s 200m away. They’re not some farmer’s market stall selling out of a truck, they’re a supermarket chain with 3 or 4 stores around Auckland and no doubt the overheads to match, but the produce is always cheaper – the meat is normally a bit more expensive, but of much higher quality.

    Comment by Chris Bull — February 24, 2014 @ 8:51 am

  2. “And, like I’ve pointed out before, places like farmers markets and green-grocers are consistently way, way, way cheaper than the supermarkets. As an urban-liberal I need a steady supply of lime and coriander and spring-onions and these are usually available at the farmer’s market at around a third of the price the super-markets sell them for.”

    Indeedy, good point – and something I was keen to discuss, so here I go :) . We need to consider why supermarkets charge more for fruit and veges to make sense of it though, which is something you point at. Here are some of the reasons:

    1) Fixed costs, as you say. However, these fall in as part of overheads – if the supermarket is facing competition of that specific item, then this is less likely to be an area where the supermarket tries to charge to pay for fixed costs.
    2) The convenience factor: The Warehouse called this the “halo” effect when trying to branch into supermarkets. The fact that you can buy fresh fruit and veges while buying other things has value, both in terms of lower transport costs, and most importantly the fact that for many people it sucks to travel around too much.
    3) Storage and transport: Supermarket produce often has to be transported larger distances and stored – a supermarket will offer fresh fruit and vegetables off season as it manages supply, the market down by Te Papa doesn’t do this.

    A price isn’t just the dollar and cents amount that shows up on the sticker, it is the convenience, location, and proximity to other goods and services the household is interested in.

    You are effectively saying in this post “there is lots and lots of other competition for supermarkets in fresh fruit and vegetables, and an outside option for wholesalers (the market), and yet people still pay relatively more to buy from the supermarket with their other groceries”. The fact wholesalers have an outside option, and there is additional competition, actually reinforces my initial point – and suggests that the price differential is indeed due to matters such as convenience etc!

    With regards to a government supermarket, I would reiterate that we haven’t been able to have large scale entry into the market, because it hasn’t been profitable – suggesting that potentially there aren’t “supernormal” profits running around (although personally I would like the Commerce Commission to have a look). The Warehouse Extra experiment was very interesting in this regard!

    Comment by Matt Nolan — February 24, 2014 @ 8:57 am

  3. But the market is always right, therefore the real world examples you quote are clearly wrong. However, I don’t think the answer is a people’s supermarket. The answer lies in strong Competition laws that demand our supermarkets are not a duopoly/cartel. New Zealand is a price gougers paradise from building supplies to fresh fruit and vegetables and it long past the time we did something about that.

    Comment by Sanctuary — February 24, 2014 @ 9:01 am

  4. Hotelling’s law.

    Comment by Gregor W — February 24, 2014 @ 9:08 am

  5. @Chris Bull “…The most interesting thing for me is how much cheaper the veges are at Farro Fresh in Grey Lynn than the Countdown that’s 200m away…”

    Where I grew up in Hawkes Bay twenty five years ago if I were a lettuce grower in Meeanee I would have taken my greenery to the Napier vege market on Munro street and auctioned them off every morning to local supermarket and green grocer buyers. There was no need for farmers markets because everything that could be grown locally was local in the supermarket. Nowadays though I have to truck all my lettuces to Palmerston North where the supermarket chains have their main distribution centres. They then truck lettuces back a couple of days later to their Napier store. This distribution model, along with the fact oldest stock goes out first, explains why a lettuce you buy at a farmers market on Sunday lasts over a week in the vege bin of the fridge while the lettuce you buy from Countdown is rather slimy by Wednesday dinner time.

    On the other hand, Farmers markets thrive on seasonality and proximity to point of production. Right now you might be able to nab a bag of fantastic hierloom tomatoes from a small grower for $3 at a Farmers market, but try doing that in August. At least a supermarket will always have a tomato in August. Similarly, you are unlikely to find a local mango at a farmers market.

    Measured in environmental terms, a farmers market makes far, far more ecological sense. My view is the Supermarket distribution/production model is already struggling under the increasing cost of energy, hence the squeezing of suppliers to retain profitability. Personally, I don’t buy imported fruit or vegetables and try to buy what is in season. The whole flying in strawberries in winter thing is so unsustainable as to be laughable. Maybe we need to start factoring the carbon cost of trucking and growing/importing out of season food into the price of said food?

    Comment by Sanctuary — February 24, 2014 @ 9:17 am

  6. New Zealand is a price gougers paradise from building supplies to fresh fruit and vegetables…it long past the time we did something about that.

    The booshwahzee have been squealing about the price of gib board since the end of the 60s, when the banks started giving them loans to buy doer-uppers.

    Comment by Joe W — February 24, 2014 @ 9:18 am

  7. ” Maybe we need to start factoring the carbon cost of trucking and growing/importing out of season food into the price of said food?”

    What a revolutionary idea! If only somebody had looked into this in, oh, 2006, and found that the emissions impact of long-distance transport is actually less than the emissions of running local greenhouses to grow fresh fruit in winter?

    Comment by kalvarnsen — February 24, 2014 @ 9:24 am

  8. Another issue is quality. Much of the farmers market produce is actually rejected by the supermarkets – I suspect mainly due to shelf life issues (market bananas are nearly always just at the point of going speckly compared to supermarket ones, same for grapes and plums). Reject goods are usually cheaper than premium. Their cost of supply would be fractional too – a truck and a market pitch.

    Note that most of those farmers at the market are not the actual farmers – most are just middle men. I;ve yet to see an Otaki farm successfully growing spinach, mangoes, bananas, mushrooms, oranges and nectarines. But I wish my kids could do mental arithmatic as well as theirs …

    Comment by insider — February 24, 2014 @ 9:24 am

  9. @insider – the quality issue almost always actually relates to appearance.

    Comment by Sanctuary — February 24, 2014 @ 9:25 am

  10. “… If only somebody had looked into this in, oh, 2006, and found that the emissions impact of long-distance transport is actually less than the emissions of running local greenhouses to grow fresh fruit in winter..?”

    I did note that growing out of season food should have the carbon cost factored in. I assume you are talking about the British “food miles” thing of a few years back. We are talking here about the local market, with the idea that if you can supply locally then it ought to be regarded (and priced) as desirable to do so from a environmental viewpoint, with transporting food only to alleviate shortages.

    Comment by Sanctuary — February 24, 2014 @ 9:32 am

  11. @ sanc

    re quality – fruit changes as it ages – it’s not just cosmetic. Climate management controls that change. Farmers markets basically do not control climate.

    Re carbon costs – we have fuel taxes, ETS costs and just plain old fuel costs all part of the equation already. Perhaps that’s why farmers markets are cheaper?

    You mdle class liberals are never happy – one wants global foods at minimal prices and the other wants to restrict diet to local goods only.

    Comment by insider — February 24, 2014 @ 10:10 am

  12. This is straightforward: when the supermarkets are owned by a duopoly, a producer/wholesaler who refuses either duopolist’s price/conditions cuts themselves out of a huge proportion of the market, so the offers are ones they can’t refuse. The answer isn’t setting up a public-sector supermarket to compete with the duopoly, it’s forcibly dismantling the duopoly.

    Comment by Psycho Milt — February 24, 2014 @ 10:14 am

  13. it’s forcibly dismantling the duopoly.

    But to extend Matt’s point, you then need another market formation to take its place – and it’s hard to know wat that might look like due to relatively high barriers to entry.
    It might mean that marginally less profitable supermarkets close down which could lead to price rises in areas where historically, they have squeezed competition out. Or in the best scenario, it could mean a whole buch of smaller suppliers enter the market in the same geographic area to sell particular product lines (greengrocers, butchers, bakers etc.) just like we used to have.

    I’m all for moving away from monopolistic competition but it does come with other costs that aren’t always clear, mostly in terms of economies of scale and scope.

    Comment by Gregor W — February 24, 2014 @ 10:42 am

  14. It is basic economics that duopolies are at least as bad for consumers as monopolies. That is why, for example, 2Degrees was so important in the mobile market – prices have fallen faster and quality has improved across all three main players. Suggesting wholesale price reductions will be passed on at retail in a duopoly is not supported by theory or evidence.

    Comment by Matthew Hooton — February 24, 2014 @ 10:48 am

  15. The joy of supermarkets, if joy is the right word is their convenience. It is not just the supplier who pays the price to bring us cheap groceries. In my experience the staff are paid as low as the owner, in Foodstuffs case, or Progressive can get away with. Minimum wage is common, and screwing employees for as little as they can pay is the norm.

    Comment by Northshoreguynz — February 24, 2014 @ 10:51 am

  16. One chain negotiates a lot harder than others, its costs are lower and their price is not offered to the other chain, I know that, but I wouldn’t know that from looking at the prices on the shelves.

    Wasn’t it the commerce commission only a few years ago that said reducing the market to 2 big companies wouldn’t reduce competition or result in anti-competitive behavior?

    Comment by Michael — February 24, 2014 @ 11:25 am

  17. But to extend Matt’s point, you then need another market formation to take its place…

    We could do with some US-style antitrust legislation – force them to split into smaller companies, and have the Commerce Commission prevent them from re-forming the duopoly via mergers and buy-outs.

    Comment by Psycho Milt — February 24, 2014 @ 11:33 am

  18. @ Michael – the test applied by the CC has substantially changed after the consent was granted. There was quite an involved case that went all the way up the chain but it was determined that that the ammendments to the Act which would have stopped this merger dead couldn’t be applied retroactively.

    Ref Commerce (Clearance Validation) Amendment Act 2001

    Comment by Gregor W — February 24, 2014 @ 11:43 am

  19. We could do with some US-style antitrust legislation…

    You could indeed, but it doesn’t necessarily solve issues for the end consumer, which is the principle remit of the Commerce Commission. It might make the market fairer – in terms of returning more economic suplus to producers rather than into supermarket owner’s pockets – but it certainly does not follow that prices will be lower for you and me.

    Comment by Gregor W — February 24, 2014 @ 11:47 am

  20. “It is basic economics that duopolies are at least as bad for consumers as monopolies. That is why, for example, 2Degrees was so important in the mobile market – prices have fallen faster and quality has improved across all three main players. Suggesting wholesale price reductions will be passed on at retail in a duopoly is not supported by theory or evidence.”

    I’m going to just point out here that there is nothing in “basic economics” that says duopolies are “at least as bad” as monopolies. We need to think about how the duopoly functions, and how the monopoly functions, to make any statements like that. Even in the telecommunications market there has also been significant other regulatory and technological change during this time.

    It is harder to commit to collusion the more firms there are in the market, but as a whole the supermarket industry is a pretty complicated one. We have a whole myriad of individual regional markets, with different firms competing along different good types. The big advantage of supermarkets comes from their scale and supply chain.

    But there is no magic rule that a duopoly will extract rents from both sides of the market, but a three-firm market won’t. My entire post was just a indication that these matters are not as clear as they may seem at first brush, and that acting like the introduction of a government firm would improve outcomes from everyone was a touch naive – there are always trade-offs.

    One key point that needs to be asked when people say the government should introduce a firm is “why did Warehouse extra fail, and why have overseas chains refused to enter the NZ market”. I also added to this in my comments “why is retail floor space so heavily oversupplied on a per capita basis in NZ”? (As an oversupply of capacity is usually a sign of difficultly coordinating for collusion) Before we throw a whole bundle of money into setting up a centrally planned supermarket chain, we need to look at these sorts of questions – and instead of simply assuming that supermarkets are massively anti-competitive, we need to try to look at the issue a bit more dispassionately.

    Comment by Matt Nolan — February 24, 2014 @ 1:10 pm

  21. it’s quite funny watching the left arguing about which class of capitalist should earn more at the expense of consumers – the retail multinats and their domestic low wage enforcers competitors or the manfacturing multinats and their domestic low wage enforcers competitors.

    And all this nonsense about a grocery duopoly- within a three km radius I can see at least two Asian supermarkets a farmers market about five supermarkets comprising three brands, four or five Eurofood markets/retailers, greengrocers, butchers. Many of the non supermarkets have come into existence long after the supermarket duopoloy came about and their prices are not dissimilar (which means they are ripping us off too right?).

    You don;t need the Comcom to regulate this market – it is thriving and is far more diverse than what I grew up with. Busienss is tough. I’m not sure why manufacturers think they have a right to an easy life that is enforced by retailers.

    Comment by insider — February 24, 2014 @ 1:14 pm

  22. “…And all this nonsense about a grocery duopoly…”

    the big two supermarkets control in excess of 85% of the market, and and an even bigger share of the market amongst those that can’t read Chinese labels. Bizarrely arguing that niche marketers constitute some sort of evidence of a thriving competitive argument does, however, fit the usual right wing MO of being rather less interested in free market competition than desperately wanting to cuddle up to bullies in the hope they can get join in the kicking of the less fortunate.

    Comment by Sanctuary — February 24, 2014 @ 1:45 pm

  23. One key point that needs to be asked when people say the government should introduce a firm is “why did Warehouse extra fail

    Foodstuffs & Progressive buying a 10% stake each in the Warehouse, wasn’t it? Presumably that required a degree of collusion across the duopoly, and it the Commerce Commission or whoever had no problem with that?

    Comment by Joe W — February 24, 2014 @ 1:53 pm

  24. “…And all this nonsense about a grocery duopoly…”

    You mean, the nonsense about two businesses controlling 85% of the market (thanks Sanctuary), or the nonsense about suppliers not being in a position to tell either of the two businesses controlling 85% of the market to get stuffed?

    Comment by Psycho Milt — February 24, 2014 @ 1:55 pm

  25. @ insider – Duopoly is a generally accepted term when describing a situation where two players have a dominant and disproportionate degree of market power. They don’t have to have the market entirely sown up between them.

    Comment by Gregor W — February 24, 2014 @ 2:15 pm

  26. Can I have your recipe please?

    Comment by Northshoreguynz — February 24, 2014 @ 3:09 pm

  27. So, we could continue to argue about how evil supermarkets are. Or we could go shop elsewhere (to be fair, Dim indicates that he does). Why the fascination with telling other people what to do – just vote with your feet and assume that others will do likewise if they share your values.

    For my 5c, the problem is people who want uber convenience, who like to buy pre-packaged food, and who like to buy out of season produce that has been picked unripe then “ripened” whilst in storage. I’m fairly confident that if these people started buying fresh and in season produce, and taking the extra half an hour a week to get that from a vege store instead of a supermarket, that’d shake the whole market up. You could still get your multinational processed food in the supermarkets – they make very little profit on that. But I’m not going to try to regulate that people follow my advice, just point out that if people did then most of these “problems” would go away.

    Comment by PaulL — February 24, 2014 @ 4:11 pm

  28. @PaulL

    Convenience is a big part of it. If I want to buy out-of-season strawberries (as Sanctuary mentions @5) at 3am for #sexyfuntimes, then the 24-hour chain supermarket is the only game in town.

    I will, and rightfully should, expect to pay more for access to the products I want, at whatever time I want them.

    Comment by Phil — February 24, 2014 @ 4:19 pm

  29. @Phil: so very true, and who am I to intrude on your #sexyfuntimes. Although I would suggest that honey is a reasonable and always in season substitute. :-)

    My point is that we seem to think that regulation is the only answer, and that the consumer has no power. But the reality, as I think Matt Nolan is pointing to, is that the consumer is actually getting exactly what they asked for. They’re getting cheaper products in a convenient way. They’d probably rather not hear about all the nasty bargaining that went on behind the scenes to deliver that for them, but it’s a bit precious to complain about the outcome of what they’ve asked for.

    So whilst my path is a bit longer, I think it’s realistic to point out that as long as people continue to choose to shop and live in a consumerist society, we’ll continue to have a consumerist society. Maybe we could aspire to be a bit more like the French, who seem to be happier to shop 2-3 times a week, and spend a little time picking the produce that they want from some smaller retailers? (Yes, I know that was a trite generalisation about the French, but I’m going there soon so I can report back whether my rose coloured view is accurate). In other words, maybe we could change things by starting at the consumer end?

    Comment by PaulL — February 24, 2014 @ 4:29 pm

  30. @phil – I never picked you for a sitophiliac.

    Comment by Gregor W — February 24, 2014 @ 4:30 pm

  31. PM/Sanc/Gregor The duopoly argument is a nonsense, in terms of it being bad for consumers and so has to be broken (not the existence of a duopoly situation).

    Despite the market power that exists, the food market is far more vibrant in terms of range and quality than it has ever been IMO.
    Most of us with gardens and wallets have the capacity to impact supermarkets directly and instantly. We are the ones with the market power and the supermarkets are highly sensitised to it. I can see it in my suburb where there is an ongoing docket war, and where one supermarket has clearly changed its F&V pricing and presentation strategy to counter the nearby farmers market.

    The duopoly exists because we want it. Despite the significant number of alternatives, we continue to choose two major chains for most purchases. But they know we can quickly change because there are plenty of alternatives. You guys want to make things worse for consumers not better to benefit manufacturers and farmers, your traditional class enemies. It’s bizarre.

    Comment by insider — February 24, 2014 @ 5:07 pm

  32. The duopoly exists because we want it.

    Is that right? And only hours earlier it was “all this nonsense about a grocery duopoly”. Speaking for yourself, no doubt, and whoever’s rectum you happen to be delivering your little sermon from.

    Comment by Joe W — February 24, 2014 @ 6:04 pm

  33. Why don’t more people shop at farmers markets. One word:
    Car
    Parks.
    Okay, it’s two words, but you get the picture.
    Sanc, I think many folk HAVE factored in the “carbon miles” to their grocery shopping, and hence they go to one place and do the lot. And no parking wardens.

    Comment by Clunking Fist — February 24, 2014 @ 6:39 pm

  34. “The answer lies in strong Competition laws that demand our supermarkets are not a duopoly/cartel.”

    I’d welcome reading a draft of your legislation. But I’m reading Notes from a Small island, so I have all the laughs I need at the mo’.

    Comment by Clunking Fist — February 24, 2014 @ 6:43 pm

  35. Insider – I’m not making an arguement. I’m stating a fact.

    In the NZ context the Commerce Commission cares if, after merging, the resultant entity has more than 20% of the market. We have a situation where two players hold more than 80% of the market.

    That’s a duopoly. As I implied before, there is no requirement for the two to capture the entire market.

    It also doesn’t matter how “vibrant” the market is in terms of product selection. That has no bearing on market share. It just means there are more interesting things in it.

    Comment by Gregor W — February 24, 2014 @ 8:00 pm

  36. Meanwhile, noises are being made about a TradeMe of groceries.

    http://www.stuff.co.nz/business/industries/9753438/Code-to-crack-supermarket-bully-tactics

    Comment by deepred — February 24, 2014 @ 8:16 pm

  37. CF #35: I read somewhere that Progressive Enterprises snuck in its merger plans the day before tighter ComCom rules came into effect.

    Comment by deepred — February 24, 2014 @ 8:18 pm

  38. The duopoly exists because we want it.

    I’m trying to think back to the bit where I thought “You know what would really improve my supermarket shopping experience? Two companies dividing the market up between them,” but I really, really don’t recall it. Still, what would I know? Apparently, educated economists feel I’m expressing a lack of gratitude for the remarkable consumer benefits a duopoly brings. “Thank you, supermarket duopoly – suppliers may be wondering how they’re going to stay in business from one year to the next, but I’m paying 20c less per kilo for carrots!”

    Comment by Psycho Milt — February 24, 2014 @ 8:36 pm

  39. Typical simplistic crap from matt nolan again. He assumes no role for habitual behaviour in his analysis. He assumes everyone has perfect knowledge. He assumes people aren’t unduly influenced by advertising to make decisions that could be detrimental to their well being. He completely ignores cultural aspects to the context. And then he thinks he can explain higher supermarket prices as the price of convenience. And apparently it’s kind of questionable to suggest that maybe, just maybe, that the owners of the supermarkets in NZ might meet and discuss how they could work together for greater profits.

    He thinks free markets can solve everything and ignores 30 years of evidence showing the contrary.
    Like most clueless economists who are unable to have a single original thought, Matt takes what he was breastfed at university and attempts to convince us that it is the world that is wrong when it doesn’t conform to the textbook, it could never be his precious theories.

    Comment by trev — February 24, 2014 @ 8:41 pm

  40. Who is Matt Nolan?

    And oh my gosh- eating cheap, seasonal NZ fruit from my local (walking distance) Asian (well ironic huh? Would probably make Shane Jones and Winston Peters heads explode) supermarket has been a great thing in the last year. You will find the stores with higher turn over usually a bit better in supply, quality and cleanliness. Though it pays to buyer beware and wash everything. Also that some of these stores will use banana prices (frequently up to a $1 a kg better) as a loss leader to get people into their shops.

    Comment by sheesh — February 24, 2014 @ 8:57 pm

  41. A personal story: I buy Easi-yo yoghurt from my local Coles (yes, living in Oz) and recently I noticed it was no longer available and in its (shelf) place is Hansell’s products, same process, different container to make the yoghurt, same cost, and with added sugar. I don’t want that product (and it tastes terrible in comparison) so now I have to make a special trip (further out) to a Woolworths or Safeway who thankfully haven’t accepted payment to replace a competitor. What have your left wing middle class contributors have to say about market forces etc? How do I know about the payment? Someone I know works for Coles (not frontline staff but upper management) and told me as if I was mad to even ask. Don’t get me started on anti-competitive behaviour.

    Comment by Stephanie — February 24, 2014 @ 9:29 pm

  42. While going to farmer’s markets is a popular passtime for the urban middle class, it’s more of a sign that often the rich pay less for basic goods than the poor than a viable alternative model to supermarkets. We couldn’t all shop at farmer’s markets, even if there were enough of them to absorb that demand (there aren’t).

    Comment by kalvarnsen — February 24, 2014 @ 9:44 pm

  43. Just bought Unspeakable Secrets of the Aro Valley, $14.95 as a downloadable EPUB. Hope the author’s cut will be cover a bunch of farmer’s market coriander.

    Comment by Joe W — February 24, 2014 @ 10:19 pm

  44. @deepred – see my comment #18

    Comment by Gregor W — February 25, 2014 @ 10:43 am

  45. My experience with farmer’s markets is that they aren’t all that much cheaper unless you also vary what you buy. That is to say, if you buy in season fruit at the markets they’re often not a lot cheaper than the same in season fruit at the supermarket. Arguably they’re better tasting, although often with skin blemishes etc. It is definitely a middle class thing, I’m not sure it’s evidence that the rich pay less for basic goods than the poor. Certainly my supermarket in a “richer” suburb seems more expensive than going to a “poorer” suburb. The product range is somewhat different too.

    Comment by PaulL — February 25, 2014 @ 1:32 pm

  46. So the bananas sold at framers markets come from Levin? Are they greenhouse bananas? How can you be sure the produce is “local”? What’s the labelling like?

    So are they not just selling what the supermarket rejected? Like a $2 shop?

    Comment by Clunking Fist — February 27, 2014 @ 12:33 pm

  47. So the bananas sold at framers markets come from Levin?

    Farmer’s are history’s malcontents. Believe them at your own risk.

    Comment by Joe W — February 27, 2014 @ 12:43 pm

  48. Just bought Unspeakable Techniques of the Aro Place, $14.95 as a down-loadable EPUB. Wish the author’s cut will be secure a lot of farmer’s market cilantro.

    Comment by dileep — February 28, 2014 @ 11:40 pm


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