Monday, 10 November 2008

The credit crunch bandwagon

A lot of people are jumping onto the budget eating bandwagon who obviously haven’t checked a supermarket price tag in their life

A press release from What Consumer? passed on by a food writer friend draws up a list of Ten Top Money Saving Tips for Food Shopping. "You will see how much the inclusion of meat in any dish drives up the price" reads tip no. 4 "Experiment with cheaper substitutes such as oyster mushrooms instead of chicken and pancetta instead of bacon." Hello! Quite apart from the fact that pancetta isn’t a non-meat substitute for bacon it’s more expensive. As are oyster mushrooms, weight for weight, than cheaper chicken cuts.

At the same time Ocado co-founder Jason Gissing is apparently telling us that sales of mince are "rocketing" as people cook more at home while little treats such as doughnuts and smoothies are “plunging”. I’m sorry, Jason, I just don’t buy that either. Most people who shop frugally include mince regularly in their repertoire already and are unlikely to double or treble their consumption. And if the economic climate is getting you down I would have thought that you were MORE likely not less, to buy a doughnut.

What planet are these people living on?

Another silly story designed to grab the headlines is Norwich Union's assertion that by 2018, we could be paying £5.35 for a pint of milk. Well, I guess it’s hypothetically possible, but it’s not very likely and if Norwich Union genuinely thinks we’re all going to rush off to stuff our savings in their low-paying accounts simply to be able to pay the milkman in 10 years time they’ve got another think coming. As the author of the piece on the MSN Money Channel points out, the amount we spend on food has actually fallen in the last 50 years. We spend just 15% of our earnings on it compared to a third just after the war.

PRs seem to have got it into their heads that any story with the words ‘frugal’ or ‘credit crunch’ in it will automatically hit the headlines. Which I suppose is good for the book and this blog so I shouldn’t complain but it does seem mildly ridiculous.


notSupermum said...

I think all of the supermarkets want to be seen to be promoting cheaper options to shoppers, and to jump onto the bandwagon with regards to frugality.

But don't most shoppers seek out the best deals anyway? I'm on a very tight budget and I look at the price of everything before it goes in my trolley. Having said that, I have tried some economy ranges recently (Tesco value mince for example) which I probably wouldn't have tried before, and it was rather good actually.

Btw, Fiona I'm looking forward to receiving my book. :-)

Ad said...

The list of tips from What Consumer has some useful ideas (although mainly rehashed from many previous similar lists). But some aren't very well thought through.

As well as those you've pointed out, it advises "Don't be tempted by clever offers such as ‘buy one get one free’ offers".

As another consumer on a very tight budget I find such offers a great help, if the offer is on something with a long shelf life which you would regularly buy anyway (I have about 7 billion tea bags in storage).

Greenlady said...

You have got every right to complain. As does everyone else that reads nonsensical bandwagon tripe. Pancetta IS a form of bacon for heaven's sake, oh how I do detest bad research. I have no idea whether the Ocado chap is telling the truth or not but possibly smoothie sales are dropping because maybe people realise its easier and far cheaper to make your own at home. Mince sales might be going up though - people rediscovering the pleasures of making their own sheperd's pies and spag bol again ....

Yes, retailers are panicking and will push the " hey look at us, we can still sell you lots of stuff because we are trying to appear wise and benevolent in your times of need ! " angle. Also, some stuff is just common sense - do people really need to be told by a consumer organisation not to be seduced by BOGOF deals of stuff that they are unlikely to use ?

Sorry to minivent. I just can't bear bandwagons, inaccuracy and scaremongering by organisations who are touting their own agenda.

Cathy said...

Hello there
Those of us in the know just laugh at the drivel we read sometimes but on the other hand there are those who read and believe some of the drivel

If you know your prices - and as 'ad' says have checked the shelf life - BOGOF offers can be very good value

Take care

Fiona Beckett said...

Hey, good to know you all react as strongly as I did. Re-reading it, I thought maybe I was going slightly over the top!

BOGOF deals can indeed be good value, ad and Cathy, particularly as you point out, on non-perishable goods. I think they've confused them with 3 for the price of 2s which can result in you buying more than you need though even these can be worthwhile on the things you buy regularly. (Boots does some good 3 for 2s)

Good to hear the value mince was OK NSM. Frankly I think these 'value' ranges are often as good as the regular lines. (And no, I haven't forgotten the book - a prize for coming up with the best bargain one week, way back, just in case the rest of you were wondering why I was handing out free copies ;-)

SheyMouse said...

Lies, damn lies, and statistics. I love that Norwich Union assertion. It's one of those great things where if we take the price milk has risen over the past ten years and keep going up, here's where we'll get to.
Papers are particularly fond of those 'statistics'. I love laughing when I spot manipulated or misquoted statistics. At the same time, I weep for people who are sucked in by the very same information.

In short, I'm with greenlady on this. The more people we can point the stupidity of bandwaggoning and scaremongering to, the better the world will be.

Greenlady said...

I would like to reiterate the " things you are UNLIKELY to use " part of my comment about BOGOFS.. this applies to 3 for 2 or 2 for 1.50 or whatever line they use to try to sell stuff ... yes, its good for long shelf life stuff or household imperishables ( I love it when this happens for loo roll ! ) but the fact still remains that many of these offers are for perishables and shorter term items that they want to get shot of and can end up adding to the food waste mountain once the impulse has passed....

I don't know, call me a natural born cynic but I think people need widespread injections of Ye Olde Common Sense rather than a misguided bandwagon site.. :D yes, I do my part with this when I can, its called the " Don't Talk Rubbish " campaign.. LOL !!

Fiona Beckett said...

I guess they (BOGOFs/3 for the price of 2) must work or the supermarkets wouldn't be so keen on them. The ones I like are on cans of pulses. You can never have too many cans of chickpeas IMO. What I imagine people focus on (and I have to admit I'm not immune to this) is the 'one free' bit rather than the cost of the 'one' you buy. Maths has never been my strongest suit. (The whole exercise of writing the blog and the book has made me a lot more rigorous!)