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S8 E7 –Do we really have a choice when buying our food?

When it comes to buying groceries, whether it be in-store or online, there are multiple marketing techniques used to influence our choices. So do we actually fully choose the food we purchase?

Best soundbite: “That’s a very odd shopping list Ebbers?! Milk, bread, toilet roll and… batteries?!!”-Jamie

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11 Comments

  1. tjmarskbb

    When I go in for groceries, I have a strict list, but I also allow some room in the budget for impulse buys or if I see a good deal. Not the one for two or two for 4 crap, but(example) sometimes the store I go to will sell limes for 8cents in which case I buy like 30 of them, zest and juice them, and freeze them for margaritas later. So…Idk 6 maybe 7…….definitely not higher than that.

  2. Porochaz

    I work for a supermarket and I do a lot of the price changes, so I find this very interesting. With multipacks for instance, I reduce 10 packs of something the same day I increase the 6 packs of the same product, and if a brand name cake, for instance goes on offer, the own-brand one immediately comes off. The only department I do, where that doesn’t really happen is the produce section where it goes more by season.

    What I tend to do when I shop is go round the store twice. The first time I pick up everything I want regardless and then the second time I put everything back that I don’t need. I would agree that the level of hunger is a big deal for me.

    When working I work in the produce department mainly, so I am the evil man who makes the fruit and the flowers look nice and eye catching and their is a very specific way you do flowers especially. The first thing you see when you come into the store after the front of house seasonal deals used to be the most expensive flower bouquets and 4 of the main fruit/veg deals (flowers have since been replaced by sandwiches to cater for the workers) The first aisle is apples/pears/bananas. Bananas are usually supermarkets biggest seller so are put into the end of the first aisle straight into the meat and ready meals and the fresh promotional ends. Supermarket placement is a very interesting topic to me at least. It’s also something that is generally not controlled by the store, as a section supervisor you get some flexibility but the decisions are made really high up.

    • Porochaz

      Replying to my own comment… Have you considered doing an expensive vs cheap food item taste off (or something with a better name) A lot of “money saving” shows do that kind of thing and I always feel the family are pushed to say the own brand is better. I’d be interested to see a blind test with a chef and a normal to see if they notice a difference.

    • Anita

      Great insider info! Hunger while shopping is huge, right? Going around the store twice putting back stuff you don’t need sounds like a great idea. Although, I might end up adding a few more things to my already bulging cart 🤭

  3. Anita

    It’s a bit off-topic but I couldn’t help but notice how “good food vs. guilty pleasure”-heavy this episode was. It caught my ears only because I recently stumbled upon a concept called intuitive eating. Have you ever heard of it? (It’s not something complicated, just eating – like normally – without overthinking it, without the restrictive diet mentality, without attaching positive or negative values to the food we eat, or to ourselves for eating that food, its proponents say you should eat what you want and as much as you want.) They say that intuitive eating – which could just be called eating, btw – results in a healthier relationship with food, can minimize cravings and help you achieve your healthy weight. I think this mentality can come in handy for chronic dieters, people – like myself – with orthorexic tendencies but I also have my doubts since – as you also presented it through awesome examples – marketing, addictive additives, peer pressure, etc. can fool our intuition big time (I think one should really be present with their body, and mindful otherwise, to reap the benefits). What do you think about this? Do you think people could benefit from a more intuitive kind of eating or from just being more aware of the language we use when we talk about food – once we consider that something food?

  4. Lolosacados

    This was enlightening. I feel like everything you described in the first half of the video is all I hate about supermarkets. So I came up with this method to trick myself: I skip the power aisle and stop myself when I can’t carry anymore items in my arms (no bag allowed before the cashier), always starting with what I came for. Also I find that if I go to a place that sell food, not knowing what I want, those endless shelves or other displays never provide me any inspiration.
    I would say 5 out of 10: I am quite good to avoid direct marketing but there is so much behind the scenes of the food industrie that I might not be aware of (trends, product origins…)

    • Sorted

      Yes good ideas! A shopping list is also crucial when hitting up a supermarket. If you train yourself to only stick to that you come out a winner…

  5. Jermiyahu

    Supermarkets are really sneaky about that sort of things.
    I really discovered that since I started shopping mostly at the farmers market.
    My budget went down, I eat healthier, more seasonally, and locally.
    I can buy the quantities I really need and there’s very little packaging! Honestly, I’m struggling to understand why I went to supermarkets for so long.

  6. Annie1962

    Rotten sods at marketing in supermarkets – always lollies, phone cards and junk food at the cash register within reach of kids (toddlers in trolley seats) so that kids will badger their parents to buy them the junk food shit.The parents feel the embarrassment of the harassment and will buy their screaming kids a lollie just to shut them up. Mission accomplished.

    Veges at the back too and fresh meat alongside the dairy.

    I remember someone telling me ‘If you want to eat healthily, avoid the middle aisles’ I’d add to that – don’t give in at the checkout.

    Makes so much sense. Yes Ben I closed my eyes and imagined my local supermarkets and they’re very similar.

    The Entrance to our Coles supermarkets are actually fruit and veges..you walk past that into the meat department, but to the left of the veges.. JUNK food and all of those sweet drinks.

    One thing that always attracts customers is smell . I’ve noticed is that… in a former job of mine I used to cook food and hand out samples..sausages are a big hit and I remember selling ALL of the Italian sausages in the store once I’d cooked the samples and gave them out. God I was good at persuasion (except the vegos)
    I learned how to cook those Italian sausages really, really well. (don’t overcook Italian saussie).

    Studies were done in regards to the correlation between eye blinking and shopping. It was found that contrary to what some scientists believed, people when shopping blink LESS.. they always believed that shoppers would blink more.

    If I go out shopping, I go late at night (in our local 24hrs a day open supermarket) and this supermarket is big and supplies the Asian restaurants so there’s lots of cheaper products to buy in that Asian section which I love…
    Yes Mike, always be sure to have a ‘quick rummage’ around the back (LOL) and thank you for looking into the camera (twice) .. hi!
    @Ben – FIFO in Australia means ‘fly in fly out’ referring to jobs in the mines where workers fly to the site, stay at the site and then fly home once their job’s finished.
    And agreed Jamie , click n collect works wonders and I actually am interested in how supermarkets use their influence on us in their shopping websites…. I find that I shop less when using click n collect because I can keep track easily of how much I am spending by looking at the how much I’ve spent column and I get a bit antsy when approaching the 100 dollar mark.

    And yes Jamie breakfast cereal is excellent as lunch on a hot day with ice cold milk and Coco pops hahaha

    Seeing as I have gained about 15 kg of the 50 that I lost, 2020 symbolises the clear vision (geddit) that I have of my goal weight – so I have lot to lose. I will vow to avoid the naughty food aisle and try to do more online grocery shopping!

    Much prosperity, love, and joy to you all at SORTEDfood.
    Love you x
    Annette from Australia

  7. nosoytonta

    Before I listened to this podcast, had I been asked to rank myself, i would have said 9. After, I think I might be a 7.5

    As usual, I think that culture is a huge influence in everything. Shopping is included. I was raised under the necessity of not wasting our limited resources, being food the very top on the list followed -of course- by water.

    These days I shop in super markets, and by force of habit I buy what I need, not what I want…provided I’m in a balanced emotional state.

    All bets are off when I find myself stressed: I’m super vulnerable at tricks and stuff, particularly when any sugary carbohydrate is involved.

    With this logic, I wouldn’t be surprised if there is a study on depressed people and how to ‘help’ them finding all sugars at super markets which should be very slightly right of the main entrance. Not entirely ‘in your face’ yet close enough as to put it in your cart nearly unconsciously on your way to start your shopping.

  8. VixReviews

    That was really interesting. I would rate myself at about… maybe a 3? As to why I’m particularly low, its a mixture of things.

    First, I can’t get to the shop myself, so I have to make a list for my fiance, so that means that I can only really ask for things that I know the supermarket is going to actually have. If I think to myself “oh, I’ll make liver and onion for dinner”, I know that there’s about a 90% chance that my fiance will phone saying they haven’t got any liver, and so now I’ll have to think up something new for dinner on the spot. This means we are basically limited to things that the supermarket is definitely going to have.

    Second is the city centre storage limit. My kitchen is tiny, so we can’t do a big shop and just pick up short shelf life stuff, there would be nowhere to put it. So we have to go to supermarkets within walking distance, which is normally the metro/express version, which has much less choice. We tend to just do a monthly big shop and get it delivered, and it’s mostly long shelf life stuff. Yeah, we can get a few meals worth of interesting stuff, but no more than about 4 days worth.

    The main reason I am so low though is disability. I have executive dysfunction, which means that planning is really really hard, and another semi-intermittent physical disease, which means that I have no way of knowing whether I will be well enough to cook on any particular day, or whether I will be able to cook any days that week. So, if I made a list at the beginning of the week, I would probably have been forced to go off-list by day 3 at the latest.

    Add in a few dietary restrictions due to celiacs and crohns, and what I can eat is restricted to gluten-free, low residue foods, that are sold in an express supermarket, and don’t involve standing up for more than about two minutes most days. Oh, and preferably that don’t involve ready meals for more than one day a week, because ready meals are f**king disgusting, and involves a hot meal most days. Can you think of many meals that fit those requirements? Seriously, any suggestions would be appreciated, I’m running out of ideas. My fiance will happily eat the same thing every day, but I find that if I eat the same thing more than I few days in a row I start to hate it more and more until I literally cannot swallow it.

    So yeah, where I was going with this endless ramble is that I would say I don’t really have much of a choice in what I eat. My meals are based entirely on what my local coop chooses to sell.

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