Some companies who are doing well – like supermarkets – did so because they did not hold the stocks required to face a crisis. We need to ask why


The reaction of the food distribution industry was outstanding……

Require that these companies be better prepared for crises in future
For example, supermarkets and PPE companies should hold more stock of critical and long shelf life items


What can we do?
One option is an excess profits tax – which we had from 1939 to 1945. There is good reason to think one might be needed – and to enact it now as a precautionary measure

So, we force, by law, people to hold more stock so that next crisis they can make more profits that we then tax off them?


70 thoughts on “You what?”

  1. When profits in these shops inevitably fall because they have to pay for large in-store warehouses cue the wails of “tax evasion” from Spud.

  2. “Enact an excess profits tax”
    (Professor Richard Murphy)

    “We are all guilty”.
    (Dr Heinz Kiosk)

  3. Dennis, CPA to the Gods

    In the USA the “shortages” of long-lived items such as toilet paper were caused by pain buying and hording. It had nothing to do with the amount of stock held by the stores. In fact, nothing short of forced rationing of such products would have stopped the shortages that developed. You could have tripled the amount of toilet paper on hand and it still would have disappeared into the hands of the panicked and the greedy. And what Spud doesn’t address is to what extent “stay at home” orders caused unnecessary disruptions of existing distribution centers. If the toilet paper factories are deemed “non-essential”, well, then you ain’t gonna have any toilet paper, are ya?

    The slow disappearance of beef from U.S. supermarkets has everything to do with the forced closing of restaurants and nothing to do with the supermarkets themselves.

  4. The supermarkets started the crisis with their shelves and warehouses full. So Murphy wants all UK supermarkets to build more warehouses and employ more delivery drivers in order to be able to re-supply all their stores overnight with the selection of products affected by the *next* outbreak of panic buying in Australia.
    If you want PPE companies to hold more stock then they need more capital – a lot more capital – which can only be acquired through higher after-tax profits so 125% of the pre-tax increase in profits. Murphy wants them to charge higher prices to the NHS (and anyone else) to fund a higher stock level.
    Oh! He then wants an excess profits tax on the higher profits that he demands
    Maybe we should rechristen Murphy as the Red Queen who believed six impossible things before breakfast.

  5. The Meissen Bison

    In the far-off country of Nobogrollia, nice Mr Maduro tried to coerce retailers to stock goods to outlast the crisis but overlooked the fact that it was his government that was the crisis. Pity.

  6. Given the NHS already held emergency stock (not that you’d know from the media) of PPE wouldn’t the question be better addressed to them as to what and how much emergency stock they had and how much they might need going forward.
    It seems they didn’t allow for the level of disruption to supply chains and so restocking became an issue, in fairness though at some point there’s nothing much you can do if there’s no supply.
    As for essential businesses didn’t one state declare packaging firms were non/essential leading to problems for food companies needing packaging

  7. You cant tell them how to trade but there is going to be a lot of ill will towards the big supermarkets especially as ( thanks to you) the old oligopoly will be stronger after Brexit when food form the EU will be subject to tariff and Non tariff barriers. I can see that they may be subject to a windfall tax and politically almost no-one would be against it.

    Its going to be very very choppy next year in a lot of ways

  8. By the way, I see US deal is quietly going through with the necessary lowering of standards.Given that avian flue and swine flu both cane from US factory farms ..well what could possibly go wrong ?

  9. I reckon that in my household, we buy, each week, about 50 items from a supermarket; and that we have a stock of about 150 supermarket items (SKUs) at any one time. Now suppose there is some crisis on the horizon, and we decide to double our stock. That week, we shall have to buy 200 items. So if everybody does that, the poor old supermarket is going to have to provide 4 times as many things as it normally does. Should it have to permanently size its supply chain in expectation of such an event?

    Note also that it is not actually the expectation of an epidemic that causes people to hoard stuff; it’s the expectation that the government will do something silly (like shut everything down) that causes hoarding…

  10. there is going to be a lot of ill will towards the big supermarkets

    By idiots, malicious wankers and Socialists, yes. Sane people understand that no system on earth short of full rationing would have stopped the hoarding and panic buying by idiots and malicious wankers.

    If you want supermarkets to hold enough stock to anticipate a future panic buying spree (how much? when?) then argue for massively expanded warehouse space next door to those supermarkets. Such expansion, of course, will have the very same people wailing.

    An “excess profits” tax on supermarkets seems particularly malicious, given that much of the goods hoarded are very long life, so effectively these idiots ‘front loaded’ their supply for months in the first couple of weeks, so won’t be buying it until it runs out. So the supermarket received ALL of that revenue in two weeks instead of spread out over six months, but the Fat Tuber wants to steal it anyway. Ho hum.

  11. How about an “Excess Professori” tax? One ‘professorship’ is surely enough for one man? And how about an “Excess body fat on Professors” tax while we are at it?

  12. @ Newmania
    Why on earth should the government introduce food tariffs on EU food rather than abolish them on Commonwealth food?

  13. Jesus, can you imagine the chaos that would have ensued if food production, processing, distribution and retailing had been under a National Food Service when this crisis hit? We’d all be queuing for our ration of turnip soup, and turning out once a week to clap for the Food Service Heroes.

    Food is far more important than healthcare, in that everyone needs food, every day of their lives. Without healthcare some people would die younger at some point, without food everyone would die with a month or so. Its only because healthcare is State provided, and thus the service is shit that we are so pathetically grateful for the tiny titbits the ‘angels’ of the NHS deign to give us. We take for granted the private provision of more types and varieties of food, at price levels to suit millionaires and paupers, than we can possibly ever need, and yet is utterly vital for our continued existence.

  14. I’m still trying to follow the logic that businesses “did well” because they didn’t have the stock to respond to demand. From Spud’s Big Book of Business Strategy, it would seem that the optimal stock to hold would be zero, since it was supposedly the shortage of stock that led to excess profits. In fact, stock shortages forced retailers to lose out on sales, from which rarely flow excess profits. I didn’t see much price gouging – at least in supermarkets; perhaps in corner stores – which would be the only source of excess profits.

  15. Let’s build warehouses for food on the green belt. Or rather issuing the planning permits for them, with an option to convert to massive houses with gardens when they reach the end of their life cycle.
    Er, hang on, that sounds good, but what if a future epidemic ( as predicted by Murphy 10 years ago ) is an obesity epidemic. Shouldn’t we be paying supermarkets to carry lower reserves?
    Thank goodness he’s only got one vote.
    @Newmania – those tariffs and quotas – the UK is quite capable of fucking those things up and making life worse for its citizens by implementing them – but guess what? – if we wake up and realise that is a bad thing to do then we don’t have to hire lobbyists to go to Brussels to grease palms and persuade 27 other countries that we’ve got the wrong policy before we can change our own. Please tell me you understand what sovereignty means. It’s not about avoiding fuck ups, it’s about who gets to fix ’em and how quickly. And the sooner we can devolve more powers away from Westminster to regional authorities, the even quicker this principle can operate. Switzerland is not a schithole, last time I checked.

  16. John 77, it would only be possible to apply zero tariffs on imports and unilaterally accept EU standards as on shore for the UK if you are en route to a trade deal with zero tariffs inward. That is impossible and not something the UK can do alone.
    The FCA have ( unilaterally) accepted EAA passported security into the UK (it is not under WTO control). That means that for two years post Brexit the EU can sell us Insurance but the UK cannot sell the EU insurance without onshore representation capital and compliance .Even this asymmetrical trade ” submission” is temporary
    It would not be possible to do the same with food.If we wish to remain part of the WTO ( that toothless joke by which such store is set), we cannot treat EU good preferentially, it would mean zero tarrifs for all WTO members which would destroy British farming .
    Vast amounts of UK produce are currently exported to the EU all of which will be finished .Will it be politically possible to put so many UK businesses out of business, at this time whilst continuing to let EU and rest of world,produce in free of tariffs ? ……. I doubt it
    Its a cluster fuck coming our way and you did it .Tempers are going to be very very short by then and I guarantee you that the Brexit government is thinking about nothing but evading responsibility. Thats why teachers are being sent up the line to death early, when it could have waited for tracking, for a month or two.

    We may have forgotten Brexit, they have not .

  17. @ Newmania
    Utter bullshit!
    We can unilaterally declare zero inwards tariff on anything.
    What’s all this about unilaterally accepting EU standards? I never said anything about kowtowing and kissing Barnier’s boots.

  18. We can unilaterally declare zero inwards tariff on anything.

    No,as we are relying on WTO trading terms and wish to remain a member we cannot treat the EU any differently to other WTO members, thats the whole point of it. So you are in a sense right ( a fictional sense ) and in reality wrong. Surely you remember this stuff ? Brexit basic…..
    If you did not wish to kiss arse you should have remained in the EU, thats all we do now .
    I have to admit I feel ashamed of this country , but at least , like Shaggy … I can say ,. it wasn`t me !

  19. @ Newmania
    Who said discriminatory inward tariffs?
    I did not.
    You are raving.
    Secondly why is the cluster**** my fault? If you are blaming “Leave” voters for your imaginary disaster scenario, then I should point out that I have already told you more than once that I voted “Remain” because we cannot reform the EU from the outside.

  20. What does “treating the EU differently” have to do with unilaterally declaring zero inwards tariffs?

    If you have no import duties, then everyone is on equal footing, by definition.

  21. John you are wilfully misunderstanding me; ok its like this
    WTO`s basic rule is you cannot discriminate against any of its members .
    So….. you cannot have a zero EU inward tariff without the same applying to all members.
    I cannot put it any more simply ?
    I am glad to hear you oppose this ridiculous idea .. who is to know here we may be by this time next year, could be that plenty will change by the time we are through this. Honestly I don`t care whose fault it is. Its (another ) disaster for everyone, its just a question of surviving it.

  22. Newmie has been digging into his stash deeper than usual? Derangement at a high, like he seems to be…

  23. Bloke in North Dorset

    Apart from a few items like bog rolls* there wasn’t a lot of panic buying and hoarding. What happened was that finely tuned logistics chains suddenly got hit with people working from home or being furloughed, schools being closed so kids needing lunch, restaurants and pubs closing, takeaways closing, even if they were allowed to stay open people not using them in the initial panic. People also feared they might get locked down for 2 weeks if they had the symptoms so were buying more.

    Suddenly the weekly shop became a shop for 2 weeks and instead of, say 70% of a families food intake for the week they had to supply 100% of the weekly food. Yes some will have added a bag of rice and pasta and maybe some other items but by and large people were sensible. It was mostly a rational response.

    The food industry supply chains should be given medals for sorting that out so quickly. Their corporate memories will file that away, data will be mined, contingencies prepared and AI and other systems tweaked. Next time they’ll respond even quicker and more accurately because they’ll have a picture of how we responded as a society.

    It should be noted that fraud and other AI systems have had to be tweaked to the new patters.

    * Apparently it’s to do with disgust being part of our disease avoidance mechanisms

  24. I worked on software that calculated just-in-time manufacturing over 30 years ago, the JIT principal has been the guiding force ever since, allowing fast switching of suppliers, I cannot believe someone does not know about this!

  25. bloke in wales
    By idiots, malicious wankers and Socialists

    A triple-tautology!

    No, a quadruple pleonasm

  26. Will the supermarkets get a tax rebate on all the things they did to enable the public to continue to shop? Hiring extra staff, floor stickers, screens, staff training, closing 24hr stores overnight to allow restocking without endangering the customers, hiring security to police entry into the store, having significantly reduced numbers in store at any one time? I’m sure there’s more. Excess profits my arse.

  27. “In the USA the “shortages” of long-lived items such as toilet paper were caused by pain buying and hording.”

    Triggered by the media. They told people there was going to be a TP shortage.

    Now, Tucker Carlson has been telling us every night for over a week that there is going to be a meat shortage. Message: HOARD!

    “It had nothing to do with the amount of stock held by the stores.”

    Correct. In the end, the problem was excessive – unnecessary – buying.

  28. Supermarkets do hold a lot of stock – £Millions in every store. They and other firms and anyone can hold whatever stock they want. However, holding stock costs money and we all want food and other prices to be low

    If idiot Ritchie wants to hold a six month food supply, he’s free to do so. Supermarkets net profit is 2-4%, holding more stock would necessitate higher prices

    UK’s Eurocarparts hold around £150 Million of stock across their branches

    @Jim May 18, 2020 at 5:39 pm

    +1 Every public sector organisation has failed, thank God they didn’t supply food

    Failure: Gov’t orders dentists to close and NHS Emergency treatment only. NHS Emergency treatment: Toothache = Extraction – we’re back to C17 Barber ‘dentists’

    @dcardno +1

    Morrisons selling In-store bakery 16kg flour and live yeast, plus Cafe 5kg bags of Pasta shows sales down due to lack of demand & money (except NHS staff full trolleys and 10% discount – all NHS waving badge I’ve seen were Admin)

  29. “having significantly reduced numbers in store at any one time?”

    That is the one single blessing of this whole excercise, actually…..
    The gossiping Housewives’ Clubs/Granny Societies that used to block the lanes and junctions in gaggles… Gone.
    The indecisive numpties hemming and hawing over what they should get for over 10 minutes per item… almost extinct.
    The murders of plague rats treating the isles as a playground with the Parental Units pretending to be oblivious or offended at the suggestion that their precious brood had better be kept in a zoo enclosure…. vanished.
    The cockwombles holding up the cash register lines with any number of inanities and stupidities….. Vanished into thin air.

    Which means that there may be less people in the isles at any one time.. It also means you can get your shopping done in less than half the time it used to take…
    I think a fair part of the increased turnover in the supermarkets is to be attributed to the fact that people actually can get their shopping done quickly and efficiently for a change..

  30. People have an inventory of things they routinely use. They have additional inventory at the store.

    When the store inventory becomes unreliable, people increase their personal inventory.

    ‘Require that these companies be better prepared for crises in future’

    This is ignorant. The PEOPLE will prepare themselves. Not full blown preppers, but keepers of larger personal inventories.

  31. The Meissen Bison

    philip: No, a quadruple pleonasm

    Oh yes! (though perhaps only at most a triple and arguably only a brace: “idiots, malicious wankers and Socialists”)

  32. So UK insurance companies won’t be able to sell their product in the EU? Who gives a flying fuck? Anyone here? Not saying I’d want to write insurance for the EU. I see bad times coming. High risk area. Bugger off Newmonia.

    As for the Ely tosser… Now he’s really got me angry. If there’s one shining example of how the private sector has got us through this clusterfuck, it’s the supermarket chains. On the ball right from the very go. They’ve fed us with barely a hitch. And that due to panic buying. Currently our one has staff managing queues to enter, policing choke points in the store & people spraying customers’ hands with bacteriacide & handing out disposable gloves. All presumably being paid for out of profits as there’s no sign prices have risen. I thank them every time I shop. Capt Potato should be thankful there’s 2,500 km and a couple of sealed borders between us. Just at the moment I could cheerfully demonstrate my appreciation of his blubbery efforts on his pallid hide. Appropriately, with a pig spear.

  33. Bloke in North Dorset said:
    “People also feared they might get locked down for 2 weeks if they had the symptoms so were buying more. Suddenly the weekly shop became a shop for 2 weeks and instead of, say 70% of a families food intake for the week they had to supply 100% of the weekly food. Yes some will have added a bag of rice and pasta and maybe some other items but by and large people were sensible. It was mostly a rational response.”

    Yup. Lots of little changes adding up to a bloody huge change. And, as you say, the private sector dealt with it, got it sorted, in stark contrast to the public sector. Just compare supermarkets to schools!

  34. it would mean zero tarrifs for all WTO members which would destroy British farming .

    Citation required.

    Protectionists always say that removing tariffs would destroy the industry involved. And yet it isn’t how it works — often enough it forces the industry to sort itself out.

    Anyway, the UK has had zero tariffs from the glorious EU for ages. Apparently you are in favour of that.

  35. So spud’s an expert on retail distribution now as well?

    Here’s an idea. Put him in charge of the national Food Service.

    That would solve the obesity crisis at a stroke.

  36. Surreptitious Evil

    And, to belabour the original point, having extra stock does not reduce your profits.

    Stock is an asset of the company, albeit not a capital one, and counts in the +money column of the accounts. So, unless my amateur accounting is wrong, two otherwise identical companies, one with cash for 5 months more stock and only holding one month’s worth, and one who is holding six months of stock will be, accounting-wise, in a similar if not identical position.

    Obviously, the former company will be able to react more quickly to changes in buying patterns etc (and has more cash on hand, which is an understandably desirable position for many business owners and managers, if not their investors) which is why so many companies work that way or even further down the JIT route as mentioned above.

    Happy to be corrected on this – I’m only a micro-business owner in a minimal stock sector.

  37. @surreptitious evil
    Supermarkets don’t hold 5 months’ turnover in cash. For the most part they trade on margin, relying on the customer to have bought and paid them for goods before they pay their suppliers. If you’ve ever tried to sell into Tesco, the first thing they would have told you is that their payment terms are 90 days — if you’re a major brand that they absolutely need to stock, they might reduce this to 60 days — so they can sell multiple iterations before needing to pay for the first one. If the store building itself is leased, the actual capital requirements of a supermarket are remarkably low, hence the ability to trade on tiny margins, albeit at huge volumes.

  38. “ That would solve the obesity crisis at a stroke.”

    I’d be willing to bet it wouldn’t solve his personal obesity crisis…

  39. SE

    Pretty much, unless cash is a lot tighter, and instead of removing cash, it’s increasing a loan or overdraft (with increased interest etc). As you rightly say, managing operating capital / cash can be critical for lots of smaller operations.


    Small increments, along with the potential of a 2 week isolation period: +1

    For whatever reason, lots of people operate on a JIT basis. And even those that don’t might suddenly become more conscious that they are at minimal levels on certain items.

    As others above have said, the lesson is for people, not the supermarkets. Many have lost their natural hoarding instincts (always keeping sensible reserves), precisely because supermarkets in the modern age do such an incredible job and are so well stocked. As usual, Spud has got it completely back to front.

  40. Matt

    “5 months turnover”. Well yes, missed the sheer quantum of it obviously! More coffee needed…

  41. So UK insurance companies won’t be able to sell their product in the EU? Who gives a flying fuck? Anyone here? Not saying I’d want to write insurance for the EU. I see bad times coming. High risk area. Bugger off Newmonia.

    Insurance is the largest employer in the South East and remains a global centre in London. Plenty of people care as great deal.These are jobs profits , incomes …grown up stuff you pointless cunt

  42. SF – don’t forget that extra 5 months of stock needs to be kept somewhere, cool dry, protected from rats and thieving, and periodically counted. Back in the day when I was a logistics manager our rule of thumb was that the cost of stock holding was around 10%.

    So the stock holding chain would be worse off in P&L terms.

  43. The Mong’s getting rattled, looks like his job is on the line. Still, I understand the fruit farms are still hiring…

    @BiS – spot on re the supermarkets, the private sector at its best. Where my sister lives in the UK, her local stores got the social distance spacing sorted out pronto, kept the shelves pretty much full and staff also did sterling work in dealing with numpties and the terminally awkward.

  44. Insurance is the largest employer in the South East and remains a global centre in London.

    Got a link to prove that first part? ‘cos it doesn’t pass the initial sniff test.

    And if it’s a global centre then surely losing the EU might hurt a bit, but hardly catastrophic.

  45. In fact here’s some numbers to show you’re wrong Newms…

    In the South East in 2016, the financial and insurance sector employed 133,000 people.
    To compare, the largest single sector was wholesale/retail trade and repair of motor vehicles which had 583,000 people.

    So unless the entirety of the financial sector changed to insurance and the sector grew by a factor of five, I’m afraid you’re full of shit.

    Looking at the table, the financial sector is a relatively small sector by employee number.


  46. @Newmonia
    I’m well aware UK insurance is a big employer & source or revenue. UK supplies insurance services to the world, not just the back yard of the EU. If a sector can’t lose a small part of its market without collapsing, there’s something wrong with it. Other industries seem to manage.
    As for selling to the EU, in particular. Notice that you’ve been remarkably quiet on the subject of the German Constitutional Court decision, last week. Your precious EU is on the skids & headed down the toilet. I’ll be surprised if it even exists in its present form in a couple of years. It’s a victim of its own contradictions. Unlike you, I’ve experience of living & operating in Europe. At both ends of it. The North & the South. The southern flank’s largely disfunctional. Here it’s almost impossible to get anything done. The Spanish are unreliable & incompetent clowns with an overwhelming sense of entitlement. Everything’s dependent on vested interests. I wouldn’t trust their legal system because courts in different parts of the country hand down contrary decisions on identical matters, depending on whose interests they’re serving. I certainly wouldn’t sell insurance to them. Lying is integral to the culture. The truth & a Spaniard have seldom been seen in the same room.

  47. Surreptitious Evil said:
    “having extra stock does not reduce your profits”

    There is a cost to holding stock.

    First you need more working capital to buy it – companies don’t usually sit on enough spare cash to buy an extra month’s worth of stock.

    Then you need larger premises to store it in. That costs money – rent or a return on the capital to buy; maintenance, rates, heating & lighting, security, etc. etc.

    Then there’s extra wastage – things spoiling, getting damaged, going out of date, or just customers deciding they don’t want to buy it (always a risk, but the more you have in stock, the bigger the loss). Yes, you can manage that (rotating stock, etc.), but that increases your staffing and admin costs.

  48. Jack the dog said:
    “… solve the obesity crisis at a stroke”

    I thought a stroke usually was the “solution” to obesity.

  49. Oh dear, people trying to convince Newmy with facts. Wasted effort, I’m afraid. He probably thinks the USA is coping badly with Covid19, he is that thick

  50. @SE

    Even assuming free storage, consider the opportunity cost of having stock sitting around not doing anything – what else could you have done with the cash instead of building up that stockpile?

  51. Been thinking on this. Why would you want to hold stock at the supermarkets? It’s the wrong point in the logistics chain. For a start, the cost of space on retail sites is high. If you were going to hold buffer stock you’d do it at depot level, which can be anywhere. Supermarkets don’t have logistical problems at the depot>store link. That can be JIT. It’s supplier>depot or direct to store is fragile, because suppliers may not carry much buffer.
    Anther example of Spud knowing FA about the subject he’s pontificating about

  52. @ Newmania
    I am wilfully understanding WTO rules, as I have done from the outset. Meanwhile you are repeatedly using straw man arguments to attack things that I have not said.
    As for “the destruction of British farming”, that’s another straw man unless you consider battery chickens and oilseed rape to be the twin pillars of British farming. Most British farmers, butchers, cheesemakers sell on quality rather than simply on price. The cheap and nasty stuff on Tesco’s shelves tend to be French “Golden Delicious”, German salami, Italian wine, Dutch cheese. French pears, German chicken breast, and rapeseed/olive oil from more than one EU country, not British (except for butter where UK butter is significantly cheaper than Danish or French). UK beef commands a premium price – when I was in Denmark a couple of years ago I was surprised to see a prestige restaurant proudly proclaiming it was selling steaks from Hereford cattle: do you expect me to believe that the export market will disappear if we set import tariffs at zero through the wave of Voldemort’s wand? Will Wensleydale suffer due to competition from cheap, imported pseudo-Cheddar? Can America export potatoes when the UK retail price per tonne is less than translantic transport costs? Have you noticed that the excellent New Zealand is six months out of sync with the supply of UK home-grown lamb.
    There will be lower prices for wheat and the economics of oilseed rape will, thankfully, collapse resulting in a reduction in asthma attacks; I hope that sugar beet production will virtually disappear to be replaced with imports from the Carribean and Mauritius and …; The losses will, apart from wheat, be largely, possibly totally, offset by the abolition of the CAP set-aside and the increased production therefrom.
    If anyone is going to be a loser it is the companies, such as my former employer, which invested tens or hundreds of £millions in farmland as rents should fall in anticipation of your disaster scenario.

  53. +1 BiND +1 J77

    there’s no down side to having zero tariffs for food. True a PR exercise can make much of a grumpy farmer and a shot of a forelorn cow, but show them the money….to be saved and i don’t even think it’ll be that contraversial. And if agricultural land prices tank then cheap as chips plots for the smallholder goodlife crusties.

  54. Newmania would like us to believe xe’s some sort of bigwig in UK insurance, which will be annihilated by Brexit.

    But it has never been possible to directly sell UK insurance to the EU populace* (despite the endless wittering about the famed “Four Freedoms” of the EU). The Germans (and the rest) block it, because the day after it happened the German insurance market would cease to exist.

    If you really want to sell insurance in an EU country, you need a local subsidiary – and that will be very nearly as easy (read: difficult) to achieve now we’ve left as it was before.

    * commercial insurance is different, but similar arguments apply.

  55. @John77

    Slight correction.. I think you’ll find that almost all the cheese at Tesco’s isn’t dutch… May be made using an originally dutch process, and dubbed “Gouda”, but it isn’t. At all.

    For starters, UK food safety laws require you do stuff to milk a real cheese maker would refuse to do, period.
    Second, real Gouda ( or for that matter, any real dutch cheese) is made with natural rennin, which means veal as a side product. It’s expensive. So your chances finding it at Tesco’s are slim…
    The cheap stuff is usually made locally in cheese factories. If it’s made in the Netherlands at all, it’ll be done in Leerdam, which has a huge plant making cheese to foreign specifications.

    You may be able to find real dutch cheese in specialty shops, but you generally won’t find it in the supermarkets. Same as I don’t expect to find real, proper cheddar or stilton in a supermarket here in Holland.

  56. @ Grikath
    Yes, but you’ve missed a few words in my post. Most of the cheese in Tesco is not Dutch, but the cheap and nasty cheese is/was when I last bought some [Tesco also stocks cheap and cheerful cheese and some expensive and nasty]. was thinking of, for instance, Edam which says it is made in the Netherlands; Leerdammer doesn’t really have enough flavour to be nasty (#1 son used, before he left home, to like Leerdammer).
    Veal as a by-product? Or rennin cheap because it is a by-product of veal? I went off veal 40 years ago when my then butcher told me how the Dutch produced white veal.

  57. @Matt May 19, 2020 at 7:31 am (@bis)

    +1 and in run-up to Christmas, Easter etc Supermarkets provide ‘warehouse’ for manufactures products on top of store shelves. Both work together for best for both and consumers benefit

    It’s not new; back in 1980s, pre Christmas & New Year, food & beverage suppliers asked us to hold sale or return stock in return for discount & double/triple of ‘payment due’ days. We had many unused cellars so not a problem {and no rodents: we had a rat once, chef chased it to me and I shot it)

    UK sells insurance to world, not only EU and is world’s largest ‘exporter’ of insurance. EU market dominated by France & Germany.

  58. ” Most British farmers, butchers, cheesemakers sell on quality rather than simply on price.”

    Thats just not true, for farmers at least. It may be the case that the cost of UK based produce is dearer in the shops, but that doesn’t mean the UK producer gets a higher than world market price for it. The price of wheat for example is determined globally, thats what I get, regardless what my produce might end up costing in the shops. Ditto all the other major UK food productions items, milk, meat etc. Its quite often the case that prices in the shops are rising, but prices at the farm gate are falling. Farming is basically raped by a small number of large multinational conglomerates who control the processing, distribution and retailing of food. There are hundreds of thousands of small producers in the UK alone, and a handful of buyers. That gives them massive market power. They know they can refuse to pay more and producers will be stuck with nowhere else to go.

  59. @ Jim
    I did specifically exclude wheat, which is a commodity (or a group of similar commodities), and oilseed rape from my optimism. But the UK exports feed wheat so you are, as you say, already getting the world price for that and moving onto WTO rules won’t make any difference; bread wheat will move onto Canadian price plus transport costs so that’s a hit.
    My butcher buys his meat and eggs from selected local farmers who supply him because he pays a better price for better stuff.

  60. @Jim

    Are there structural reasons why there are not more farmers’ cooperatives in the UK to handle the processing and distribution side?

  61. “Are there structural reasons why there are not more farmers’ cooperatives in the UK to handle the processing and distribution side?”

    Partly that the one that was very successful was outlawed by competition law – the Milk Marketing Board used to control liquid milk sales from all farms in the UK up to c.1994. This gave farmers a bit more muscle to compete with the supermarkets and processors. But that was considered anti-competitive so outlawed, not sure if it at the behest of the EU, or merely a UK policy. One suspects the latter, because there is a farmer owned dairy co-operative in Denmark and Sweden (called Arla) that controls 90%+ of the liquid milk market in those countries, and the EU doesn’t seem to have outlawed it.

    And partly because the history of them in the UK is not good – farmers co-operatives are usually captured by the management/workforce, and end up being run for their benefit rather than the producers/owners. There used to be a number of farmer owned co-operative buying groups, that sold farm supplies, but it became increasingly apparent that their prices were no better (and often worse) than the competing non-co-operative farm supply companies, and they have withered away.

    Plus UK farmers are naturally suspicious of co-operation, they prefer to paddle their own canoes, than have to rely on others for crucial parts of their businesses.

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