Friday, 7 November 2014

Debunking the law of supply and demand

Firstly - I hate the word 'debunk'. It's an ugly sounding word, usually spoken with an arrogant inflection and quite often by particularly unpleasant people.

The origin of the word is suitably nonsensical considering I have no idea what 'bunk' is and no inclination to find out. Especially if it is anything similar to 'spunk' - the gross definition.
I am neither arrogant or unpleasant, my mum will confirm this. I therefore promise to never use the word again.

To the point of today's rambling - the laws of supply and demand do not always work for me because I demand a particular product and it is not supplied to me by the supplier I demanded it from. Demand exists, but there is no supply. I am fulfilling my part of the bargain, but the supplier is not. They broke the economic law of price equilibrium, I am merely an innocent bystander.

OK, I admit, I hated economics at Uni and might not have grasped the concept - but that probably had a lot to do with my lecturer being an egotistical twat, hiding in his self-built kingdom of intellectualism, only venturing out to display an extraordinary lack of personality by jogging along the esplanade with white shorts, white shoes and no shirt. 

Strange man.

In Australia we have two major grocery chains – Woolworths and Coles – from here on referred to as TD (the duopoly). I live in a remote area so these two are pretty much all I have available in terms of food stuffs – plus one or two specialty shops and butchers with ‘specialty’ prices. While I would love to eat only organic, grass-fed animals, I learned enough in economics to know that if I did, I would have to go without other items such as clothes and electricity.

It’s no secret that TD stock loads of food that is no good for human consumption – that’s obviously where the money is. The decent food they do sell, appears to be a small proportion of overall shelf space. As paranoid and conspiracy-prone that I am, there is no avoiding the conclusion that demand for the shitty products is high.

Although this is alarming on a societal level, in the spirit of selfish bastardry – I don’t ingest the crap, so I don’t really give a damn. What I do care about is when the supplier has decided that my demand is insufficient to warrant the supply of something delicious and nutritious.

A case in point - in the last few months TD have stopped stocking lard and beef dripping (tallow) – previously an infinitesimal section of the fridge, consisting of one brand of one product. The disappearance of a dietary staple, apart from being bloody annoying, presents some interesting questions on demand and supply because the decision is a nation-wide one. Granted, they have only 23-24 Million consumers to satisfy, but given that TD stock many different flavours of shitty fat, this tells me that they must sell quite a bit of it – they wouldn’t waste shelf and fridge space if they didn't.

Focussing specifically on the yellow spread section of the fridge, because that’s where the animal fat sat – I guestimate that the percentage taken up by butter and lard/dripping is/was roughly 10-20% of total shelf space - animal fat taking up approximately 1%. 
spot the real butter
Of course, when I say ‘butter’, I mean the real stuff made from cow juice, not the yellow slime and the ‘butter blends’ where they’ve decided to mix butter with canola oil or other vague 'vegetable oils' to make it easier to give you cancer. They are also easier to spread because that is apparently the only thing you do with butter - spread it on bread and/or rice crackers or possibly some 99% fat free piece of nutritionally void cardboard. 

Obviously no one has the time to take butter out of the fridge and let it soften these days. Forward planning is so inconvenient when there are social media feeds to check and ‘like’ or ‘re-twit’ icons to click on or whatever the hell you do on those things.
Magic slime that will reduce your cholesterol. Just try not to think about the cancer.
My hatred of social media aside, I have curiosity in this instance, so I sent an email to both companies, asking why their shops are now lard and dripping-free zones. Hard core and direct - that's me.

Woolies said Allowrie Lard was deleted from our range after a review of our products in this category. Demand for this product was not in line with customer expectation.”

Who knows what they define as a ‘category’, given that it was the only product in the ‘refrigerated non-butter awesome animal fat’ category. 

"Demand for this product was not in line with customer expectation" is totally confusing unless "customer expectation" somehow means "what we expected our customers to buy". 

Coles did not reply because they are probably incredibly busy deciding which product, that I demand, to stop supplying next. Economic anarchists to a tee.

Seeing as it was up to me to restore the solid foundations of the science of economics (I'm pretty sure there are many people who truly believe there are some. And that it's a 'science'), I found an online supplier willing to transport animal fat 4,000 kilometres to my door. Grass fed, organic, the whole damn box and dice. Hell, they even render fat from Wagyu cows and sheep. Sounds awesome.
fat from happy cows in a bucket
While the products aren't as cheap as blended vegetable oil or flora pro-active with chlorine-flavoured pixy sterols, I won't have to sell my first born or a kidney to buy them. 

Equilibrium is restored. At least in my house. The masses will continue to demand cheap, processed crap because eating real food is a dangerous fad and not sustainable. 

And there are no wholegrains in animal fat.


  1. Like you, I live in a bit of a food desert. Not even one decent real deli in the local area.

    I'm beyond annoyed with my local Coles for all the products I love that they've discontinued in the past year or so - ghee, Melrose nut mix butters for some crappy brand that has peanut in every variety. They stocked chicken hearts and giblets for a nanosecond, then the products disappeared again. Even the kangaroo is a ghastly processed version with a million additives. In fact most of the meat is a ghastly prepackaged version of "easy" crap meals. Now another disappointment next time I go. Grrrrrr!

    1. G'day Indy Jill. I hear you. While it might seem like a 'first world problem' to others - it still makes me want to grab the person responsible for order stock, shaking the shit out of them and screaming in their face - "what sick, perverted game are you playing?"

  2. I live far away from you both , and the most affordable grass-fed meat in local groceries stores is NZ lamb, so I thought in your corner it could be even more affordable.
    I had been receiving a grass-fed-fat for free from local healthy food store for two-three years because they were throwing it away anyway and I complained their ground beef was too lean. I am also not ready yet to spend a fortune in order to eat all organic/grass-fed food. Now that fat is for sale 1.99 for a pound. Normally stores just put fat in a garbage when they prepare stakes for sale, and vegetarians claim they are saving our planet by eating plant foods 8 - 10 times a day. Humans are amusing and illogical, and human mass generates very odd food demands as a result. I mostly cook on a refined coconut oil just because I like it. It is also more logical choice for the person with a removed gallbladder.

    1. Hello Galina - a healthy food store that throws away animal fat sounds intriguing. I can only assume the lamb we're sold is Australian lamb - it doesn't specifically say they were fed grass, but I would certainly hope so.

      Humans are indeed amusing and illogical - and sometimes just plain stupid.

      Have a good one.