Supermarkets and dairy
Success at the cost of suppliers
in The end of the experiment?
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This chapter demonstrates that interrogating the problems of the dairy sub-sector can help us understand something of the problems with food supply chains more generally. As industry cheerleaders point out, supermarket chains have triumphed over independent retailers because they offer consumers low prices, choice, quality and convenience. In supermarkets, the special offers are frequently paid for by suppliers: supply chain power relations allow the supermarkets to dominate suppliers, with adverse consequences for the chain. Providing the supermarkets win planning permission and avoid collusion, there are few restraints on the shareholder value behemoths of sheltered British capitalism. The chapter explores how the supermarkets are engaged in a permanent struggle to maintain margins. The standard media story presents the problems of food supply as a dichotomised confrontation between modernity embodied by supermarkets and tradition embodied by farmers.

The end of the experiment?

From competition to the foundational economy

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