Co-op News Summer 1985 PDF
BEATRICE BUYS MOUNTAIN HIGH
Some Co-op members have suggested that we stop carrying Mountain High yogurt since the new packaging proudly proclaims its ownership by the Beatrice (“You’ve known us all along”) Corporation. While we haven’t ruled out the possibility of discontinuing Mountain High (and Rosarita Vegetarian Refried Beans) we also have not decided to discontinue it. I want to take this opportunity to layout some of the issues as I see them and tell you what we are doing so far. We welcome any and all responses to these thoughts.
The day I opened the first case of Mountain High bearing the bright red Beatrice band I thought, “Ah ha! This should make the bottom fall out of the Mountain High market.” Quite the contrary, however, Mountain High sales actually increased briefly and since have remained steady despite the seasonal sales drop.
Mountain High is the cheapest available flavored 8 oz yogurt on the market that is both full fat (as opposed to low or nonfat) and honey (rather than sugar) sweetened.
It has been difficult to get facts about Beatrice – we know they own Samsonite luggage, Rosarita, La Choy, a lamp company, etc., etc., but that’s about it. We have been told with equal sincerity that Beatrice is heavily invested in apartheid South Africa and that their portfolio is “clean”, particularly as regards South Africa. (We have asked both sources for documentation.) Our guts tell us that you don’t get to be the biggest with completely ethical business practices, but we need facts.
Beatrice is just one example of the “corporatization” of natural foods. Some other examples we know about include Smuckers buy-out of R.W. Knudsen, Kraft’s buy-out of Celestial Seasonings, and Heinz buy-out of Chico San. One of the great things about the Co-op is that most Coop members really do care about how and where their food is produced. If the trend towards corporate control of the industry is allowed to continue, we may have very few options very soon.
So what can we do, short of discontinuing the line?
Decrease or eliminate Mountain High promotions. We have already decreased them. Eliminating Mountain High promotions is difficult because it is the yogurt most frequently specialled by our distributors, and there is something to be said for passing on low prices to the members. Expand the product line and do variable pricing to allow other yogurts to compete more effectively. We have brought in the 8 oz Honey Hill non-fat flavored yogurts as a price competitor (65c), and changed distributors on Brown Cow to bring it in a few cents cheaper (down to 68c from 71c). We are using a variable mark-up to allow Nancy’s quarts and 4# tubs to compete with Mountain High.
Promote other brands and encourage distributors to do the same. We have increased promotions and specials of Nancy’s and have talked to all our sales representatives about specials on other lines. Use more product information to help Co-op shoppers make better-informed choices. (Always plenty more to do in this area.)
Research these corporations so we have the facts to back-up what our guts are telling us. Secrecy is the watchword of the business world – we need your help on this one. (“Corporate take-over of the Natural Foods Industry” could make a dynamite individual contract for a student!
All of these points just skim the surface of a very complicated issue. We need to hear your comments, reactions, information and criticisms. Please respond. Thanks.
CHEESE PRICE COMPARISON
I always knew the Co-op had great cheese and dairy prices, but it wasn’t until I found myself with nothing to do at 3:00 one weekday morning that I discovered just how great they really are. Yes folks, there is something useful in having all the major competitors open 24 hours a day – the middle of the night is a great time to do comparison shopping – no crowds!
Seriously, though, I’m proud to say the Olympia Food Co-op has the best cheese prices in town, as well as a selection that is respectable by anyone’s standards. For the purpose of comparison, I divided our cheese selection into 3 major categories: specialty, natural foods, and commercial staple cheeses.
I knew before I went that we had ‘em in specialty cheese prices, hands down…Bayview, Safeway, Mark/Pak… Brie, Camembert, Romano, Muenster, Myzithra, Bleu, Parmesan, Rondele.
Several specialty cheeses we carry were either unavailable anywhere else, such as XX Sharp Cheddar, Smoked Danish, and Garlic Jack, or available only one other place, including Kasseri, Asiago, and Feta. Another interesting fact I discovered about both Safeway and Bayview is that there were some cheeses in their deli sections such as String Cheese that also appeared in their staple cheese sections, prepackaged and at considerably lower prices. So if, even after reading this glowing report on Co-op cheese and dairy prices, you still want to shop for cheese elsewhere, it behooves you to do your own price comparing aisle-to-aisle.
In natural foods cheeses, our selection totally overwhelms the competition – rennetless cream cheese, goat cheese and raw milk Swiss were unavailable at the other grocery stores.
The biggest surprise to me, however, was how well we compared in our commercial staple cheeses, Mild Cheddar, Monterey Jack, Mozzarella, and Swiss.
Elsewhere in the Dairy Cooler our prices remain competitive in milk, eggs and butter and our selection in natural foods dairy products (sugar free yogurts, soy products, kefir cheese, goat milk, raw milk products, etc.) is unique and unmatched in the Olympia grocery market.
By Grace Cox