Hello my beautiful kittens! How are you? Are you enjoying the winter weather, with long walks in the cold air, or are you more of a hibernating creature? Here I do enjoy a bit of both. Especially with the increase in bills, to spend less it would be better to go for walks at the weekend to avoid consuming too much electricity and gas. But how good is it to get all nice and comfy, with loads of hot tea, under the blankies and by watching your favourite TV shows?! Love both.
But talking about the “cost of living crisis” (I feel we’ll get a new acronym for this too) there is much advertisement about how to cope with this.
One of these methods would be for consumers to switch to the so-called “value brands”, which usually means buying store-owned brands: in the United Kingdom it would be Tesco, Morrisons, M&S etc instead of the “Big Brands”. This seems to be such a big sacrifice for people because they have always given so much trust to these bespoken companies: true they are more expensive, but you get quality. In theory. So it makes sense that people are disappointed that they won’t be able to afford what they used to. But we should actually be happy that this is happening (not the prices rising, but people buying less of these brands).
Who are the “Big Brands”?
When we talk about these Big Brands, we are talking of the likes of Coca-Cola, Pepsi, Nestle, Mars, Johnson&Johnson, etc. We’ve already talked about how these are just evil incarnate previously, but if this is the first time you’re reading this blog please check this post and this one too.
The main examples I see around, are Heinz beans and Kellogg’s Corn Flakes. These are staple foods in most of the kitchens probably around the world: who hasn’t heard about Heinz or Kellogg’s? Or what about Mars bars?
Everybody knows them, most of these brands have been around for a hundred years. And how much advertisement has been done in all this time? In my work, I sometimes have to search old newspapers, from the 1910s, 20s, 30s, 40s and 50s: they are filled with ads from these brands. You wouldn’t believe how many Bovril advertisements are in each issue of the newspapers I have to inspect: and to add to this, they also had fairly long articles sharing the *supposed* benefits of such foods, writing that they were the very best of the best, top-notch quality so every household should have them because these brands can really be trusted.
In the past decades, they managed to create customer trust that it is difficult to undermine: people will always prefer asking for a “coke” meaning that they want a soda by Coca-Cola or Pepsi. They will ask for “Heinz beans” or “Heinz ketchup”. They will go for Kellogg’s cereals, thinking that they’ll be making a safer choice.
But these brands have become so comfortable that while their products *might* have been decent in the past, now they now put all the different chemicals, extra refined sugar (yes, the beans too), palm-oil and more. Because they know that people wouldn’t even look into the ingredients, consumers will just buy them because of the name.
It seems that in the past years, there has been a fair change in consumers’ behaviours, with more people opting for a vegetarian or vegan diet or also just more interest in how the food is made, checking the ingredients and being more aware of what the food they want to buy contains.
There has also been a boom in small independent businesses, producing handmade vegetarian and vegan food that doesn’t use harmful ingredients. Because of how this is made, it is more expensive than the “big brands” products.
With the rising costs of bills and groceries, people are becoming more concerned about what they can spend their money on and they have to make choices about where to cut their expenses. The more expensive stuff will have to go: good offers on food are now very tempting. People are going to buy groceries at value retailer shops like B&M, which are fully stocked with Nestle, Mars, Kraft etc.
But choosing the Big Brands means that your health will be really compromised: the amount of sugar, palm oil and chemicals used to make these products, eaten in large quantities, will have an impact on your health.
Not only that. Their labour and environmental policies are appalling (see the linked posts above).
How to avoid them
It is difficult, I won’t deny it. They are everywhere, at convenience stores you’ll only find these brands and they can look like the better budget solution.
However, supermarkets like Tesco, Morrisons and Sainsbury’s make their own products: they are cheaper and usually have better ingredients and quality controls than the big brands.
The other solution, is to look into the special offers from the vegan independent businesses: the 3×2 or when products are close to the use-by date, you can buy in bulk and freeze the surplus.
For cupboard items like legumes, you can buy them dried: make a big batch once every 2-4 weeks to use for stews and soups and freeze the rest to use in future dishes.
The “Big Brands” worked hard to gain people’s trust through heavy advertisements to convince the public opinion that they are “good for you”, but they are actually full of food additives and chemicals. If you want to avoid them, you can by purchasing supermarkets’ own brands or buying dry items.
What are your thoughts on this? Let me know in the comments.
Bye for now!