What marks the modern supermarket, especially in the richer western hemisphere, is the presentation of abundance. Every shelf on every aisle is stocked to capacity and constantly restocked with an endless array of goods; tins, jars, and cartons, packets, bags, and loose produce of every imaginable consumable product. Decades ago market researchers discovered that fickle consumers preferred to spend money when they were given choice and plenty. What was quickly realised was that real choice and the delivery of plenty to the marketplace would be both impractical and expensive. Delivering on such a recognised consumer demand would either result in the goods being too costly or the profits being too low. Yet the companies and corporations who employed the market researchers sought an alternative route to delivery – one which they thought would be a win-win. The result of this course of action was that the market was given the mere presentation of plenty and the illusion of choice. Simple commodities like wheat, barley, and corn were processed to such a degree that they became the principle ingredients in everything; from the obvious breakfast cereals to sweets and sauces. Individual companies have since expanded on this practice to the point that we have been reduced to consuming only a handful of brands.
Kylemore Café on O'Connell Street sells only @CocaCola Company soft drinks. This isn't really a 'choice.' Taking my business elsewhere.—
Ùr-Fhàsaidh (@UrFhasaidh) July 02, 2015
Ùr-Fhàsaidh (@UrFhasaidh) July 03, 2015
For the past number of years I have made, along with a growing number of people around the world, a conscious decision to boycott certain companies and brands because of their reckless commercial behaviour. Coca Cola and McDonalds, for example, have worked tirelessly to dominate the global market; aggressively undermining competition and workers’ salaries, reducing our choices, and damaging our health and the environment in the pursuit of profit. Walking into a bakery that has been in business in Dublin since 1974 the shopper is presented with a soft drink cooler with what looks like a real choice. Coca Cola and Diet Coke are there to be chosen along with other cold drinks. What isn’t immediately obvious is that whatever soft drink the customer chooses the profit for the sale ends up with the Coca Cola Company; a company that has used thugs and intimidation against unionised labour in the Developing World to ensure profits in the Developed World. Yes, there are different brands and many different flavours but the money goes to the same brutes. This is not a real choice. It is a monopoly on consumer spending that guarantees a supply of money for political lobbying and a continuation of the war on workers’ rights.