Where Have All Our Brands Gone?

- Sold out By Our Supermarkets: Betrayal and Market Manipulation

Brand-checking / price-match: The point? None: the supermarkets are going all out to remove branded food, save their own, from the shelves whilst all the while trying to make customers feel happy about receiving a price match discount for something that is becoming more and more negligible by the week. Just try obtaining a price match when you find that your Asda brand of frozen chips have cost you 50p more than the equivalent Morrisons brand!

Edible Oils (including rapeseed oil / sunflower oil / palm oil): added to food as an emulsifier (in simple terms to make the food easy to break down in the mouth, but not at all easy on the stomach). This is the food manufacturer's own way of saying that they believe that the people who eat the food (ie: the consumers and people who buy the food) are children and lack the stomach (literally) to be able to process food without someone making it nice and easy for them to do so ...and because people have become so used to (and accepting) of this, there now exists a ludicrous situation in which it is simply not possible to buy even the simplest of foods (take plain pizza bases, for example) without them containing (completely unecessarily) at least one, sometimes two, different oils.

For people with oil intolerences this is a nightmare, and for the environment it is a catastrophe on a global scale, as various industries vie for ever more land to grow palm oil plantations, creating massive deforestation in the process, not to mention the destruction of habitat for critically endangered species, like Orangutans, to name only one of many different species.

On the refridgerated shelves of the supermarkets you can buy no end of spreads for everything from sandwiches to cooking and baking; but spreads that do not contain palm oil, sunflower oil or, most especially, rapeseed oil - ? ...not a chance. Despite the simple production processes involved in creating a spread1, spreads remain expensive; although rapeseed oil, in particular, is very cheap, whilst palm oil is rarely even RSPO (Responsibly Sourced Palm Oil) and certainly not CSPO (Completely Sourced Palm Oil)2.

To the relief of oil intolerence suffers (or those who simply care about the environment) alternatives, like avacado spread, have appeared (and disappeared again, - not surprising bearing in mind that they were liberally blended with plenty of rapeseed oil, thereby making it completely unacceptable to many customers who would otherwise have bought it). Just to add insult to injury, the supermarkets (with Tesco taking a lead) are systematically stripping their shelves of branded spreads and replacing them with their own containing, yes, plenty of palm and rapeseed oil, plenty of fillers, and a liberal dose of flavourings and salt.

The Pure brand of spreads remains the only choice for anyone wanting a rapeseed-free spread (and for many people suffering from Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Chron's Disease, or similar) but this, too, is becoming increasingly hard to buy (all the supermarkets dropped the Soya variety months ago, Asda no longer stocks the Pure brand of spreads at all, and smaller stores, - eg: the Co-Op stores simply do not stock it) and vegan alternatives are all but impossible to obtain at all.

Online Promotional Items: these are an absolute joke. Asda, especially, has promotional prices on quite a number of items which, week-in - week-out, are simply unavailable to online shoppers. A perfect example is Schwartz Garlic Pepper, 2 for £2, which has been unavailble now for over 3 months! A similar ludicrous situation exists with many everyday price items, - eg: Waitrose Chinese Leaf Lettuce (which are actually a type of cabbage, but we will let that pass) which has to be purchased by the store with a minimum order quantity of 14 and is therefore almost always unavailable to online shoppers even though it invariably sells out everytime it is available.

Brands No Longer Available: these are numerous and consist, in some cases, of entire product ranges, eg: dried marrowfat peas (Whitworths were the peas to buy, but last time I managed to find any the brand was Bachelors, they were absolutely tasteless, and are now growing in the garden in the hope that they may yet produce something edible).

Mincemeat (for baking) has all but disappeared, too, and about the only green pesto that can be purchased now (all stores) is Sacla, which is nastiest excuse for pesto imaginable; to even call it such is an insult to true pesto! The only green pesto worthy of the name was Bertolli Green Pesto (and that was removed from the shelves a good five years ago, now).

Healthy cereal: toasted malted wheatflakes used to be available, and additive-free cornflakes. Now everything has added salt, sugar, artificial flavourings and a whole load of other additives that are completely unecessary and which will only lead to obesity and the onset of other illnesses, mainly bowel disorders, known to be caused by such and the consumption of overly-refined foods. The only additive-free cereal available in our stores that I have found is Shredded Wheat, as even Weetabix is full of additives including sugar and salt.

Muësli is expensive, and almost always contains added sugar, as in refined sugar. Dorset Cereals, whilst expensive, used to produce some of the best (and tastiest) healthy muëslis and granolas with no refined sugar; now they are simply just another Jordan's - Ryvita brand (certainly blended at their facilities) and are nowhere near as nice as they used to be, not to mention even more expensive.

Sugar, too, has been much reduced in terms of range. It used to be possible to buy sugar as white perls and brown crystal pieces, but neither are available any more and have not been avaible, now, for a good many years. Similarly, it is not possible to find sucanat, jaggery, piloncilo, or turbinado in our stores, and I have only ever seen sugar cane for sale in Sheffield market.


[ 1 ] cold blending at very low temperatures to make the oils set, and requiring little more than two oils of a type that will set and remain set if kept at a cool temperature or, more usually, one fat or oil that readily sets at room temperature or below and one that does not, thereby making the resulting mix soft and spreadable. Note, too, the complete absence of material on the internet relating to the home or homefarm production of spreads. Also of note, the absolute refusal by food grade fat and oil suppliers in the UK to deal with the public and small businesses.

[ 2 ] Even oils sold as CSPO have, unfortunately, been proven to be completely untrustworthy, and whilst various companies have agreed to improved oversight it remains to be seen whether it actually amounts to anything significant or brings about any real improvements.

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