Monday 27 July 2015

Fortunately, Tesco does not have a monopoly

If the newspapers are to be believed, the people who run Tesco have taken leave of their senses.

The UK's biggest supermarket chain is axing some of the best-selling children's drinks brands as the war on sugar is stepped up in a bid to tackle childhood obesity, according to a new report.

Tesco has revealed that it is to cull an array of added-sugar soft drinks including CCE's Capri-Sun and several varieties of Suntory's Ribena as it revamps its range amid growing concerns over health and obesity.

Have these people been smoking crack? Do they really think that they will appease the 'public health' racketeers by taking Ribena and Rubicon off the shelves? Why not stop selling sweets, chocolate and fruit juice? Why not stop selling packets of sugar, if that's what the demon ingredient is? Why not stop selling cigarettes and alcohol? Above all - as the 'public health' goons were quick to shout on Twitter - why not stop selling Coca-Cola, Pepsi and Tango, all of which will still be available under the new regime? Tesco has started something it will not be able to finish without closing down several aisles.

Speaking of Twitter, I was expressing my bewilderment on there yesterday when the inevitable zinger arrived...

Obviously that is not my position. Tesco is free to bring in whatever policy it likes and I am free to shop elsewhere. The market can therefore decide whether Tesco's policy is sensible or not.

My house is pretty much equidistant between a Tesco and an Asda. I tend to go to Tesco and I won't be boycotting it on principle but when Ribena is on my shopping list - as it sometimes is - I'm damned if I'm going to Tesco for most of my shopping before going elsewhere for my soft drinks. It will be Asda for me.

Living in a free market obviously does not mean that the government forces supermarkets to sell Ribena, but nor does it mean that customers shouldn't complain when a company unnecessarily restricts choice in a doomed attempt to satisfy insatiable 'public health' quacks. Complaining might not make them change their minds, but ultimately it's their loss if people decide to vote with their feet.

Contrast this with government regulation. When the state does it, you can't go elsewhere because the state has a monopoly. What are you going to do? Emigrate? You can vote in the ballot booth, but people rarely vote on a single issue and your vote is pretty much worthless anyway. You have no choice and the government doesn't care if sales fall.

In summary...

Company stops selling something you like:

Complain. If your complaint has no effect, shop elsewhere and make the company suffer. No skin off your nose.

Government bans something you like:

No point complaining. Suck it up. You suffer, they don't.

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