The extra slippery ketchup bottle

“And if all those bottles had our coating, we estimate that we could save about one million tons of food from being thrown out every year.”

So, sales of ketchup and mayo decline by 1 million tonnes a year.

It\’s going to be interesting listening in on the sales call isn\’t it?

\”Guys, we\’ve a great way to reduce your sales!\”

15 thoughts on “The extra slippery ketchup bottle”

  1. The law of diminishing returns kicks in, in my opinion. Producers do want the consumer to have as much of their stuff as possible. They don’t want the consumer to think badly of their product if so much is wasted and unavailable. They paid for it, they want all of it. But when you get to the last few scraps left in the bottle or whatever then it’s not worth it from the producer’s point of view as you say, nor from the consumer who has to pay more for the extra special film. Is the cost of the film worth that few micrograms of ketchup. Now if the product in the bottle was gold, then the story would be different.

  2. Falling by a million tonnes != falling by a million of the current price per tonne-in-the-bottle.

    Since the value of mayo and ketchup is in the amount you get on your chips, not the amount you get in Tesco’s, it seems reasonable to assume you’d be able to raise consumer price per tonne-in-the-bottle and hence your margins. And everyone loves better margins.

  3. Missed SBML’s comment. It’s likely that the cost of the film is absolutely bugger all when manufactured at massive volume, based on the cost of most nanoplasticery. Unlike the cost of ketchup and mayo, both of which are sourced from distinctly factor-inflation-y agricultural products.

  4. The amount left in the bottle has never bothered me. You can get most of it out by holding the (closed…) bottle at arms length and windmilling it. Anything left after that isn’t even enough for a decent squirt.

  5. It’s a market, stupid. That’s why producers will use these bottles even if they would prefer not to, because if they don’t, their competitors will and they will steal all those marginal consumers and millions of $. The only way to avoid this, is for everyone to adopt the improved tech even though none off them want to. So the consumer gets the benefit despite the fact that no one producer actually wants to sell it. This is why we like markets, remember?

  6. Torquil,I actually followed that logic. Not sure what it says about me, but yes the markets will factor in the change. And I’ll get to throw out my Daddies sauce bottle only when the bottle is actually empty.
    Hmmm…. is it me or are there industrial uses for this technology too?

  7. Odd. Our leading advocate of the argument that markets solve (just about) everything thinks there will be no market for something that saves consumers money.

    I’m an optimist, so I’m with torquil McNeil at 6 (or are he and Tim being ironic? I’m confused).

  8. Our leading advocate

    He isn’t.

    of the argument that markets solve (just about) everything

    They don’t and Tim knows it well. They are just better than statist solutions in the vast majority of cases. Ask any rational libertarian (real world not USian – or did I cover that with ‘rational’) whether justice and defence should be state or privately controlled.

    thinks there will be no market for something that saves consumers money

    If all it does is transfer costs directly from the consumer to the manufacturer, all it is going to do is reduce margins. Do a brag thing like Ben’n’Jerry’s and the losses in per-product may be made up in volume. Or john_b at #3. I don’t necessarily agree with him but it is a rational take on the matter.

  9. I’m with Torquil on this one. The sales meeting will say “Use this coating and pinch market share from your competitors. Don’t use it and lose market share to your competitors.”

    After all, if smooth pouring and maximum use were not a factor, then developing an “upside-down” pouring technology would not have happened would it?

    By using some sort of clever valve, we now keep out ketchup bottles permanently “upside down” to ease maximum use.

    Yup, it’s the market. And a billion can be used elsewhere instead of being thrown away.

  10. I was trying to be polite – who do you think is our leading advocate of market solutions?

    And I said, as you quoted, an advocate that markets are the solution to “just about” everything. Pigou tax on CO2, but not as far as I am aware an advocate of intervention in the ketchup market. Do I find myself the sole advocate of the benefit of free markets on this blog? I don’t even like ketchup.

  11. I pay about €0.60 (48p) for a perfectly good 500g bottle of generic ketchup from my local discount supermarket, so if I can’t get the last 5% out, that’s cost me €0.03.

    Do I look bovvered? 😉

  12. there are much better uses of nano-technology – windows that do not need cleaning, cars that do not need washing – this ketchup thing is beside the point.

  13. “this ketchup thing is beside the point.”

    Most of the time, yes, but not on Friday evening with fish and chips from the Folkestone smokehouse.

    I think this tech will have a lot of medical applications, by the way. If it works as advertised it will end up just about everywhere. I might swap some of my Facebook shares for these, if the FB’s are still worth anything.

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