Does the consumer really have the purchase choices in supermarkets aisles? Do The colored compartments actually offer hundreds of different yogurt, chocolate, ready meals? No, according to a study (download here) of the American NGO Food and Water Watch, published on December 5.
The organization studied 100 categories of products in the US supermarkets. And its conclusions obliterates the myth of consumer choice. Behind the appearance of the filled shelves diversified products, supermarkets offering foods on the market are supplied by only a handful of agribusiness giants. Out of one third of the examined product types, four companies control more or less than 75% market share.
Take the example of baby food: three companies control 90% of sales! On breakfast cereals, four companies (Kellogg’s, General Mills, PepsiCo and Post Foods) control 80% market share, in dozens of different brands. Similarly, 86% of beer sales are made in the USA by four companies. You can choose between a pack of Stella, Leffe or Budweiser. But all these brands are owned by the same company: AB InBev (which holds 47% market share).
The high degree of food concentration is not visible on the supermarkets shelves. “The customer has the impression to have a choice between different producers. This deception allows consumers to believe in choosing between competing products while in reality he simply chooses between products manufactured by the same company, and perhaps even made in the same plant,” concludes the Food and Water Watch study. More than half of the money spent by consumers in their food shopping went to four supermarket companies in 2012, the NGO added in its study.
For a genuine choice, visiting farmer’s markets near you stands as your best remedy, in addition, you will be in control of healthier options.
Food and Water watch facts (PDF): http://documents.foodandwaterwatch.org/doc/grocery_goliaths_no_appnd.pdf
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