Pandemic Profiteers.

As a young man, I was trained by two different grocery chains in management of large grocery stores. Later in life, traveling around the world, I would often visit grocery stores, not to see what was different but to admire what was the same. From Hamburg to Kyoto, I could drink in the familiar odours, measure the familiar aisles and re-orient myself.

But today there is a difference in my home town grocery outlets. It is a sense of mounting annoyance. It is a less civil environment. It is the edginess of the staff. It is in the hurries of store management. It is the mounting prices for bread and bacon, milk, butter and potatoes.

The newspapers are finally catching the unrest and reporting on the unconscionable profits being harvested by the publicly reported grocery chains. Reporters are aghast at what they see as skyrocketing prices. Housewives on tight budgets wear worried frowns.

What is worse; nothing will be done about it. Our politicians have been enslaved to the food chain for many years. The conservatives live and die by the farmer voters. The liberals are caught up with the processors and middle marketers. And the NDP are supposed to be the last bastion for the urban consumer. Nobody rocks the boat.

But it is not like the integrated oil companies that merely ensure their profits with managed retail pricing of their goods. Purveying groceries is a much more complicated business. Food chains can stretch many thousands of miles as the seasons mitigate the supply. Processing is often concentrated in low-labour cost countries. A can of peas can have a low percentage mark-up because of its long shelf life, while a head of lettuce loses value daily. And meats make the profits for the chains.

But prices are gouging as each retail chain follows the other up the pricing for profit path. No chain backs down when it comes to dividends.

And what greater profits will they reap as the pandemic denies us the ability to fight back as recalcitrant politicians are baffled by the coronavirus?


Copyright 2020 © Peter Lowry

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