This weekend sees $1 strawberries appear on supermarket shelves.
Whilst news of cheap berries may make some shoppers jump for joy, this dramatic discount raises some serious questions here at Munch Crunch HQ.
This isn’t the first time we’ve seen supermarkets drop prices seemingly out of the blue.
Last year, top grocery stores dropped prices of their strawberries down to $1, in a move to prevent food wastage and ‘support farmers with oversupply‘. Holding good growing conditions responsible for an abundance of strawberries in the market, they justified this shopper deal as a move to support berry farmers with more fruit than they needed to meet demand.
Whilst there may have been a unseasonably good harvest, this significant surplus of berries timed rather conveniently following the infamous strawberry needle tampering scandal that involved major suppliers including Donnybrook Berries. We wonder if fear of chomping into a sharp object may have had something to do with a drop in demand too…
So it begs the question, how can supermarkets explain these sudden drops in price in and out of season? And even with ‘good reason’, how can these substantial market reactions ever be considered sustainable?
By pumping and dumping the market in this way, not only are supermarkets squeezing their suppliers, but they’re also setting totally unrealistic consumer expectations. To put it simply, if you are paying just one single dollar for a 250g punnet of strawberries, someone is losing out. And it’s not the supermarkets.
As profits soar for big chain grocers, it is our homegrown farmers who pay the cost of supermarket price wars. And it is usually these farmers who pay for your generous discount.
Farmers do not often talk about these things out of fear of ruffling the feathers of large processors and stores. There is a “climate of fear” in the monopolistic world of modern food retail: small producers are too frightened to speak out about the abuses that are impoverishing them because they risk “reprisals”, which may mean losing the only customers there are.
So we ask you – is the cost of low price strawberries to the farmers who work so hard to grow them really worth it? And is it time to rethink eating local and organic as a ‘premium‘, and look at it as the standard?
The saying ‘There ain’t no such thing as a free lunch” conveys the idea that things appearing free always have a cost somewhere. And in the case of supporting your local Aussie farmers, “There ain’t no such thing as a $1 punnet of strawberries” either.