A couple months ago we compared Costco to the "lean" corner store, deriding the big box mentality of purchasing in bulk to supposedly save money. Perhaps a few bucks are saved initially, but what is eventually lost in terms of storage space, spoilage, change of preferences, and the like? Perhaps the UK government took note of our post as they have declared war on food waste. Ok, I probably shouldn’t go that far, but still…
Supermarkets will be urged to drop "three for two" deals on food
that encourage shoppers into bulk-buying more than they need, often leading
to the surpluses being thrown away. The scandal of the vast mountains of
food that are thrown away in Britain while other parts of the world starve
is revealed in a Cabinet Office report today. It calls for a reduction in
food waste: up to 40 per cent of groceries can be lost before they are
consumed due to poor processing, storage and transport.
40 per cent. Initially it surprised me, but after further thought it really seems reasonable. And as we predicted that households could save some real money by not buying in bulk, the UK government did some analysis to put a tangible value on the savings.
The report says UK households could save an average of £420 per year by not
throwing away 4.1 million tonnes of food that could have been eaten. "If we are to get
food prices down, we must do more to deal with unnecessary demand, such as
by all of us doing more to cut our food waste which is costing the average
household in Britain around £8 per week," he [Gordon Brown] told journalists on
board the plane to the [G8] summit.
Buying in bulk really is penny wise and pound foolish. Real British pounds in this case.
Michael F. Martin says
The recent spate of books on food economics could be a boon to proponents of lean accounting:
Braclay Rockwood says
Blaming 40% wastage on bulk-buying is such a nanny-state thing to say! Here is what the Nanny-Government should have said: Brits! store your bulk food properly! Cook your bulk food properly! Learn how to use the fridge! Buy some re-usable storage bins (i.e. Tupperware).
The waste is clearly in the manufacturing methods of food prep in the British households – not the bulk method.
Mark Graban says
How’s this for a hypocritical dinner?