Socialist Worker

Is the real problem that food is too cheap?

Issue No. 2341

Former Tesco boss and management consultant Pamela Robinson has blamed the horsemeat scandal on cheap food. “The current crisis in processed meat products highlights a growing concern that food in the UK is simply too cheap,” she said.

“I think we are paying too little for our food. We have to recognise if we want good quality food, we have to pay for it.”

It’s perhaps no surprise that a boss wants to use the scandal to drive up food prices. But what this really amounts to is firms trying to hold consumers to ransom.

We’ll produce decent food if you pay a certain price, they say. Otherwise we’ll fill our products with the cheapest things we can lay our hands on and you’ll have to put up with it.

The fault for the recurring food scandals lies with the industry, not consumers.

Nobody forces firms to produce and market cheap ready meals. They choose to do so because it is profitable—despite the low prices.

This drive for profit pushes firms to cut corners and bulk out food products with the cheapest ingredients.

This is what puts safety at risk.

Firms already make profits from cheap food. They don’t invest this in sourcing good quality ingredients for their products. Giving them more profits won’t change this.

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