It's Not Just Marmite. It's Bisto Too.

28 October 2016, 13:27

Marmite

Unilever said it and Tesco said it and Nestle said it: prices are going to go up.

Tesco is the biggest retailer in the land, Unilever and Nestle are two of the biggest food companies on earth.

These companies are packed with experts in possession of facts but we are no longer interested in experts and facts.

The lunatic wing of the Brexit Headbangers Club have declared that anyone suggesting a possible negative consequence of leaving the EU is a traitor and should have their living privileges removed, along with their heads.

We can all say we were there during Marmitegate. It was a small testing of the waters by the company Unilever which announced an across the board 10% price increase for its products supplied to Tesco.

That the press concentrated on Marmite is interesting because it is one of those Ye Olde English consumables, like HP Sauce and Birds Eye that are especially loved by Kippers.

Those are brands that speak of proper Mary Poppin's prams and cricket on the green and Jackanory before every children's television presenter stopped being an eccentric and started to became a suspect. Marmite is the taste of Britain in black and white.

Unilever make far more than that unctuous tar, though. They also make Ben and Jerry's and Hellmann's and the food advertised to shed the weight gained by eating those products: SlimFast.

The little battle between Unilever and Tesco was settled amicably, or so we are led to believe. Despite having no knowledge of what transpired, the press called it a victory for Britain and hailed Tesco as the champion of the little people.

That can not be the same Tesco whose three former directors were charged with fraud over a £263m accounting scandal, nor could it be the same retailer that according to the Grocery Code Adjudicator "knowingly delayed paying money to suppliers in order to improve its own financial position", sometimes not paying a debt for two years.

Tesco are not on the side of the little people any more than Apple are a firm run by caring hippies or BP are friends to the environment. They are aggressive capitalists out to maximise their profits. They also have a very low level of profit on everything they sell. They got so big by selling a lot at a small mark-up.

Food companies have a much greater profit margin on what they sell and it is rather easier to avoid supermarkets that annoy their customers than it is to avoid food conglomerates.

The hundreds of house-hold brands that Unilever produce are as nothing compared to the wares that Nestle has on offer.

I could list then all here but there isn't enough room on the internet.

Pretty much everything in your kitchen and in your cat was made by ten companies.

If you don't like the price hike on one product, the chances are that the alternative you choose will have been made by the same people.

So when two of the biggest food giants in the world, and our dominant retailer, all say that prices are going to rise because of Brexit, it might be wise to at least prepare ourselves for that eventuality and accept our decision has repercussions, rather than waving the Union flag about and shouting at the problem, expecting it to go away.

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