beating the supermarket

jase_2-2 Forumite Posts: 25 Forumite
Don't know if this is useful - but I read somewhere about the marketing psychology used in supermarkets and the placement of the impulse buy items, there were a few great tips that were mentioned.

- Go around the supermarket the opposite way, most supermarkets have the fresh fruit first and freezer section last, so start at the freezer section and walk the aisles back to the fresh fruit, because you are looking at the shelves in the opposite direction to the psychological placed impulse items, it should save those impulse buys
- Try not to take kids shopping if possible, as all the sweets are at child eye level.
- Try to look more towards the very bottom and very top of shelves, as they will always put the items THEY want you to buy at eye level, whereas sometimes the better priced are put to the very bottom.
- Never shop when hungry - or you will buy more (the amount of times my wife and I have been shopping just before tea and ended up with biscuits and cakes galore!)

hope this is helpful

stay lucky!


  • snidgey
    snidgey Forumite Posts: 8 Forumite
    Maybe a good reason for having freezer section last ??? If you buy ice cream, etc FIRST can turn to inedible/defrosted gloop by checkout time! ::) :'( Usually quite a warm ambient temperature in supermarkets and invariably get stuck in the slowest queue. Better take a frozen food bag to ensure stuff keeps frozen, BUT make sure to put all the contents through the checkout ;D
  • Chipps
    Chipps Forumite Posts: 1,549
    Part of the Furniture 1,000 Posts Photogenic Combo Breaker
    Choosing the time of day is good, too. It helps to know when cheap stuff is put out. We have a safeway within walking distance - don't use it much cos it's still too expensive - but is handy if I just want something small without using the car.
    Went about an hour before closing time yesterday & got some salads (pre-pack fresh rocket & herb & buttered potatoes) for 10p each! They usually have bread marked down to about 10 or 20p too.
  • cathy_3
    cathy_3 Forumite Posts: 1,500
    1,000 Posts Combo Breaker




    Bugs, sweat and fears

    What's in your bag of salad, and how did it get there? Felicity Lawrence investigates

    Saturday May 1, 2004
    The Guardian

    In an idle moment, I decided to reconstruct the contents of a 99p bag of washed and ready-to-eat salad. Of course, you are not meant to do this, the whole point of bagged salad being that we are too busy to wash our own lettuce leaves, let alone count them. But I wanted to know how many you get for your money. Erring well on the side of generosity, I reckoned that for roughly £1 I had bought two leaves of frisée, one leaf of red radicchio and two leaves of a pale green, crunchy variety of lettuce. This portion was livened up by 18 tiny whole leaves and seven torn pieces of dark green leaves about the size of a 2p coin.
    Bagged salads did not exist before 1992. Now, two-thirds of households buy them regularly. The value of the UK salad vegetable market had, in fact, grown by 90% between 1992 and 2002.

    This does not mean we are eating 90% more salad - volumes have grown only by 18% over the same period - just that the food industry has found ways to make much more money out of salad.

    Thanks to global sourcing and advances in packaging technology, we have got used to the idea of eating a variety of salads all year round. Modified-atmosphere packaging (Map) can increase the shelf life of prepared salad by over 50%, making it possible for supermarkets to sell washed and bagged salad from around the world. Lettuce and salad leaves are harvested from fields in the UK, southern Europe or the US one day and reach a packing house either the same day or a day or two later if imported. The salad is cut or separated into individual leaves by gangs of workers, then washed in chlorine, dried and sorted, before being packaged in pillows of plastic in which the normal levels of oxygen and carbon dioxide have been altered. This slows any visible deterioration or discolouring. The salad is then trucked to a distribution centre where it will be dispatched for delivery to the stores. Map keeps it looking fresh for up to 10 days. Some lettuces imported from the US are kept fresh in Map for up to a month.

    Unfortunately, some research published in 2003 in the British Journal of Nutrition suggested that this new invention to prolong shelf life and provide us with convenience while multiplying profits might actually destroy many of the vital nutrients in salad.

    A team of researchers and volunteers at the Rome Institute of Food and Nutrition had conducted an experiment. They took lettuce grown by a cooperative and gave it to volunteers to eat on the day it was harvested; lettuce from the same source was then given to volunteers to eat after it had been packed in Map and stored for three days. Blood samples of the two groups were analysed after they had eaten the salad. The researchers noted that several anti-oxidant nutrients - which protect against ageing, degenerative disease and cancer - such as vitamins C and E, polyphenols and other micronutrients, seemed to be lost in the Map process. The volunteers who had eaten the fresh lettuce showed an increase in antioxidant levels in their blood, but those who had eaten lettuce stored for three days in Map showed no increase. The researchers noted that nutrient levels fell at a similar rate in lettuce stored in normal atmospheric conditions, the difference being that a lettuce stored normally showed signs of limpness after a few days, whereas with Map the illusion of freshness is preserved.

    When the results of this trial were published, they provoked a defensive debate among packers in the UK. Jon Fielder, director of a company called Waterwise, which sells ozone-based disinfecting systems to salad packers, wrote to the trade magazine the Grocer: "It is commonly acknowledged that Map does have an effect on the depletion of nutritional value of salad, however it is the chlorine used by most UK packaged salad producers in the washing process which has a far worse effect on consumer health. In most cases, the salad leaves are immersed in water with chlorine which is an oxidising disinfectant. The chlorine level is usually maintained at a minimum of 50mg per litre - 20 times higher than in the average swimming pool." In fact, the Italian researchers had not used chlorine, so the Map must have been responsible for the nutrient loss, but it was a helpful addition to public knowledge to have the industry view on chlorine washes.

    Chlorine washes leave surface residues of chlorinated compounds on lettuce, and because of this the process is banned in organic production. Some chlorinated compounds are known to be cancer-causing, but there appears to be little research on those left on foods treated with high doses of chlorine.

    "As well as disinfecting out the bugs, they disinfect out the taste of fresh leaves, as anyone who has eaten salad straight from the garden knows," Fielder points out. But controlling bugs is all important. As Fielder says, "In a litigious society, and with the prospect of damage from bad publicity, no supermarket dare risk having E coli food-poisoning bugs on the salad they sell."

    There appears to be good reason for supermarkets selling prewashed salads to worry. Between 1992 and 2000, the period in which bagged salads took off, nearly 6% of food-poisoning outbreaks were associated with ready-to-eat salads and prepared fruit and vegetables. In 2000, two serious outbreaks of salmonella poisoning in the UK were traced back to lettuce. One person died as a result.

    Once the market started growing so rapidly, the government's Public Health Laboratory Service (PHLS) decided to monitor bacteria levels in salads. A study of refrigerated ready-to-eat salads sold at retail stores in the UK in 1995 found that 6.5% contained listeria and 13% E coli bacteria. The most recent PHLS survey in 2001 found salmonella in five samples and high levels of listeria in one sample of ready-to-eat salad from three major supermarkets. One of the samples containing salmonella also contained E coli bacteria. Fuller investigation subsequently uncovered an outbreak of salmonella poisoning in different parts of England and Wales caused by the salad. The majority of the samples were fine, but, as the authors of the study pointed out, the new methods of packing raised new dangers.

    Effective decontamination of ready-to-eat vegetables is difficult. E coli bugs are usually spread from human or animal faeces, either from the unwashed hands of farm or packhouse labourers, from manure that has not been properly composted, or from contaminated water. Good hygiene practices are essential to controlling them. But Fielder, even as someone who sells disinfecting technology, says, "The longer the factory chain, the harder it is to control contamination. I always feel I should wash the lettuce I buy, even if it is bagged and 'ready to eat'."

    Standards of hygiene in factories and packhouses themselves are generally high and meticulously monitored. But in almost every other respect the system of employment that prevails in the food industry today militates against decent conditions.

    The preparation and packing of fresh foods such as salad are now dependent on cheap, casual labour. That cheap labour has been largely provided by migrant workers. The labour-intensive business of sorting, washing, cutting and packing leaves by hand could not be done without them.

    Casual and frequently itinerant labour has gone together with agriculture for as long as anyone can remember. Many farms are no longer simply places where food is grown, but sophisticated, industrial complexes built around packing sheds and lorry parks. When they are not harvesting and packing their own produce, the big farms today are trucking or flying in supplies from abroad and packing them.

    My research suggests that at least half of the workforce in food packing is now illegally employed. Exploitation is not the exception but the norm. Authorities investigating the illegal use of labour can see a pattern emerging right across the country, and fear it bears the hallmarks of a series of mafia operations.

    It works like this: gangmasters set themselves up as "employment agencies" in the form of one or more limited companies. They recruit workers from abroad, sometimes being involved directly or indirectly in smuggling them in and providing them with false documents. The gangmasters provide housing and transport , which not only ensures that the workers remain completely dependent on them, but also disguises the fact that they are paying less than the minimum wage. Rents deducted for squalid housing are often extortionate. They charge the packhouses, factories and farmers VAT and deduct tax and insurance from the workers' pay packets, so the companies' books are kept clean. The gangmasters then go bankrupt, owing between £1m and £3m in unpaid tax, insurance and VAT, much of which will have already been moved offshore. They then appear as phoenix companies, with the same directors supplying workers to the same sites just days afterwards, but trading under a different name. Clone companies are also created, which provide subcontracted labour to the mother company to disguise the frauds and get round restrictions that prevent bankrupts being directors of other companies. Violence and crime of other sorts go hand in hand with these illegal activities.
  • Chipps
    Chipps Forumite Posts: 1,549
    Part of the Furniture 1,000 Posts Photogenic Combo Breaker
    :oOKAY OKAY OKAY :o I get the message!!!!!
    Honest, mum, I won't do it again.........
    (but they were only 10p...)
  • Murtle
    Murtle Forumite Posts: 4,154
    Part of the Furniture 1,000 Posts Combo Breaker
    oh my gawd....that is shocking :o:o:o

    i knew they weren't that good value - but I didn't realise just how poor value.... :o

    I thought it was better then throwing out half a lettuce each time...apparently not, so I won't be doing that again!!!!

    thanks for that I think I have just saved myself a fortune... ;D
  • cathy_3
    cathy_3 Forumite Posts: 1,500
    1,000 Posts Combo Breaker
    I used to buy them if they were on sell by date and looked ok but never agan frightened the life outta me that did
  • VickyA_2
    VickyA_2 Forumite Posts: 4,523
    Part of the Furniture 1,000 Posts Name Dropper Combo Breaker
    I work for one of the nasty salad companies that you mention that do the bagged salads. They are very expensive, and I do agree on that front, but it is the supermarket that makes the money and not the factory. The supermarket normally asks for a "40% margin" on all their products - no wonder they all rake in loads of profit. For simple mixes eg iceberg, romaine etc, it definitely is cheaper to buy a wholehead, but if you want something a bit more adventurous, I do go for the bigger mixes - but then again I have the benefits of a staff shop!
    Sealed Pot Challenge #021 #8 975.71 #9 £881.44 #10 £961.13 #11 £782.13 #12 £741.83 #13 £2135.22 #14 £895.53 #15 £1240.40 declared
  • ksh123
    ksh123 Forumite Posts: 1,248
    Part of the Furniture Combo Breaker
    hmmmn, in my local ASDa fresh veg and frozen are at the START of the shop, together, not at the end! Does this mean Asda are using reverse psychology on us? No, in fact its a very clever ploy. Because there is no air conditioning in the store if its warm inside, and it nearly always is this means that you often end up walking the length of the shop twice because of wanting to go to the freezers last. Clever eh? Twice the journey often means twice the shopping!
    Stop looking for answers....
    The most you can hope for are clues.....:)
  • Murtle
    Murtle Forumite Posts: 4,154
    Part of the Furniture 1,000 Posts Combo Breaker
    shop faster....get out before it melts!!!!

    ;D ;D ;D
  • tair_bashir
    tair_bashir Forumite Posts: 24 Forumite
    A study a while back showed that supermarkets also introduced ambient background music instore as it showed that people tend to stay in the store longer...hence shop more.

    Other tips for supermarket shopping include...

    [glow=red,2,300]*[/glow] Pick up a supermarket FREE magazine on your way in...there are usually coupons inside which could save you money on your shopping that day...TESCO and Asda have these..not sure about any others.

    [glow=red,2,300]*[/glow] Keep your money off coupons in your wallet/purse (..or car - if you use 1 particular car for shopping trips), as people usually forget to take these when they go out shopping and only realise once instore/on the way.

    [glow=red,2,300]*[/glow] ...a bit of a no-brainer, but...Use a CASHBACK credit card (if you have one) to pay for shopping...doesn't really get back at the supermarket (other than they pay a nominal fee for credit card transactions)..but it soon mounts up over the year...last year I got over £100 in cash back for annual spend on petrol, shopping, etc.

    [glow=red,2,300]*[/glow] If you have a supermarket loyalty card (such as Nectar, Tesco Clubcard, etc.) then do USE IT! Keep it/them in your wallet/purse to make sure you always have them when you need them. Again like CASHBACK credit cards, the money soon mounts up (particularly if you use them at the loyalty card 'partner sites' also to spend on petrol, hotels, car-hire, flowers, etc.).

    [glow=red,2,300]*[/glow] For non-food items, ALWAYS check the clearance areas could find the item you're after at a reduced price...and all that may be wrong is that the packaging is slightly torn/damaged, etc.

    [glow=red,2,300]*[/glow] For food items, ALWAYS check the back of the display FIRST as that's usually where the longest BEST BEFORE items are placed.  The ones with shortest BEST BEFORE are placed near the front so customers pick them up first - hence they're sold first.

    [glow=red,2,300]*[/glow] ...for milk / dairy produce, try and shop late in the day...this usually means you get items with a slightly longer shelf life (maybe by upto a week) as they are re-stocked throughout the day.  This is particularly true with fast turnround items such as milk.

    [glow=red,2,300]*[/glow] Eggs...I'm sure we all check the eggs to make sure they're not broken, etc. before putting them in our trolley, but ALSO check them AFTER the girl/boy at the checkout has passed them over the scanner.  It's absolutely flabergasting, but the number of times i've shopped and had eggs "hurled" across the scanner is amazing.  TWICE I've checked them and had to ask for them to be replaced as eggs became cracked.

    Hope this helps folks !  :-*

    No reliance should be placed on the above.
This discussion has been closed.
Meet your Ambassadors


  • All Categories
  • 338.8K Banking & Borrowing
  • 248.6K Reduce Debt & Boost Income
  • 447.5K Spending & Discounts
  • 230.7K Work, Benefits & Business
  • 600.7K Mortgages, Homes & Bills
  • 171K Life & Family
  • 243.9K Travel & Transport
  • 1.5M Hobbies & Leisure
  • 15.9K Discuss & Feedback
  • 15.1K Coronavirus Support Boards