Wednesday, 9 January 2013

"Can you read this?"

asks the man ahead of me. He is squinting at the label on the tin of beans. The printing is small and it is also colour on colour - gray on blue. It is, even for someone with good eyesight, almost impossible to read.
It is not the first time I have come across such problems. The "home brand" labels in that supermarket chain are particularly bad. It is as if they do not want the customers to read the labels. Quite possibly they do not.
I manage to read the label to him. The source is China. He puts it back on the shelf.
          "So that's why my wife said not to buy it."
He picks up the more expensive but made in New Zealand brand - the only other alternative.
I go into that particular supermarket only rarely. I do not like it. It is large, indeed very large, but much of it is sourced from China now that there are more and more of their "own brand" appearing on the shelves. The variety is not there. It appears to be. There are multiple "flavours" of some things - such as cheap jams and cereals and pasta "sauces".
I do not use those things. I can understand why some people do. They are cheap, They have salt and sugar and preservatives aplenty. The bread is "fresh baked" but much of it actually comes from America. It is just the final baking which is done here.
I do buy a brand of tea the Senior Cat likes in there. So far, it is still available. If another senior asks me to shop there for them I will do it. Some of them believe it is cheaper.
I prefer the other supermarket. They have a "source locally if possible" policy. Their own "home brand" is printed black on yellow - much easier to read.
But, I still need to read labels - all sorts of labels. I wonder how people who cannot read really cope in the supermarket. There is an intellectually retarded man who does his own shopping with some difficulty. He cannot read at all. The staff know him and, if he cannot rely on the pictures, he knows he can ask them - or me or other people who know him.  He never shops in the "cheaper" supermarket because so many of the items no longer have pictures to tell him what the contents are.
Did they think of this? Quite possibly. I doubt that it bothers them. The people who run the supermarkets are not there to cater for those who cannot read.
Quite possibly, in their view, it is better if you cannot read.


Jan said...

I saw frozen fish the other day. Label said it was caught in NZ waters but processed in China. It had then been sent back to Sydney to be sold. I read labels. I'm fussy and I try to buy only Australian products, NZ at a pinch.

I agree about the seeming variety of goods but really, many brands have disappeared from the shelves and have been replaced by generic. Some higher house brands are obviously done by other firms who have no other presence. The quality is there but the price is about the same as the branded. The cheaper house brands are often rubbish.

Anonymous said...

Their baked beans were hard and horrible! Ros

Helen devries said...

We have this problem in Costa Rica, made worse by the pasting of the obligatory contents label in Spanish over the tiny wording telling you where the muck originates.