Woolworths – A sad, sad situation.

…or why I’m fed up with their very ‘unfresh’ produce.

I don’t think there’s a sane person in South Africa who thinks our economy is all tickety boo. Even brainless imbeciles who do presidential impressions have at least a shred of awareness of…. Sorry my mistake, what was I thinking?

But here’s the thing. Despite the current upheaval and forthcoming hardships, SA food retailers still insist on offloading questionable produce at horrendous prices. Specifically, I’m mad at Woolworths (although they’re all guilty). Ignoring, for a moment, that South Africa is in the middle of Avocado Pear season, I had to buy two minute Avos for R28.00. The sporran was worn at half mast and I swooned with righteous indignation.

An avo the size of two ping pong balls

When cutting them open less than 24 hours after purchase (on their ‘sell-by’ deadline), they looked as if their ‘sell-by’ date should have been in 1964. Of course Woolies will politely tell you to bring it back for a refund/exchange if you’re not happy with your rotting or mauled goods; but that’s not the point is it?

What a surprise - again.

For you profit-blinded retailers out there, I beg to present you with a scenario:

On a Saturday morning, I trundle your trolley around your shelves, because I’m preparing a meal for family or friends. I have in mind a menu and systematically work my way through the products to make my purchases.

Back home, I begin the preparations, only to be frustrated by products that can only have been hurled onto the shelves by a demented scrum half, or which are showing ravages of ageing worse than Goldie Hawn. The frustration and rage I feel is surpassed only the next day when I have to waste another hour and travelling costs to take my dying Avos and till slip to the Woolies branch to either get a refund, or another punnet of green uncertainty.

The most appalling fact in this whole tragedy is that each and every retailer out there knows full well that there is not enough competition to force him to improve his game. They’re all delivering less-than-optimum standards, service and products and we silent consumers just migrate from one retailer, to the next, to the next and back again in a downward spiral of acquiescence and complacency.

The South African population is too insular or fragmented to present a united, cohesive force against producers and retailers. However, I want to believe that the company willing to bear the cost of improving their offerings, market growth and long-term profitability is a foregone conclusion.


About Freud Fission Chips

Despite the banality of the name, FFC has led an intensely varied life. Grateful for surviving almost three years as a 'troepie' (soldier for non-South African Readers) in the Angolan war, he determined to wring as much out of life as possible. Currently providing Business Analysis services, trading on the stock market and developing web pages to pay the bills, FFC also dabbles in wildlife, landscape and people photography, writing, and far too many interests for his own good. He has also travelled extensively in southern Africa (working on the sound theory that a moving target is more dificult to hit). These peregrinations also include over 1500kms on foot through some of the worlds most spectacular scenery. It hasn't all been plain sailing, beer and skittles, and endless beds of roses... Chief amongst the prerequisites for surviving Africa, with its mind-bending characteristics, is an appropriate sense of humour.... So, for now, he will be recounting the amusing among the annoying, the frustrating wrapped in the funny and extracting the mirth from the melancholy... Oh yes, there might be some alliteration too.
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4 Responses to Woolworths – A sad, sad situation.

  1. Mark Hayne says:

    Just need to point out that winter is the avo season in SA and that most of the avos in stores currently are imported (mostly from Spain).

    • Oooops – now THAT’s embarrassing. Unreserved apologies to you and all readers (ok, both of them) for the error. I have some vague recollections of avos on the side of the roads in Natal at this time of year – but I stand corrected. Thank you squire. That also accounts for the obscene prices.

      I assume then that the avos in the photos are imports, and part of the reason for their blemished state could be the handling at the various ports.

      While this exonerates, to a small extent, the retailers from their pricing structure, they still make the profit from selling the goods to the consumer – so they ought to bear the risk, and either drop the price or remove them from the shelves.

      Thanks again Mark for the correction. Glad you’re here by the way.

  2. Peter Sansom says:

    Alan, I do see your point.

    however, I cannot see how such a small avo can be justified as rivalling the price of gold, imported or not.

    The Good news. At my current address (the guest house) , the huge avo tree is laden.. green avos. Feurte kind. ripe in a few weeks. want some?

    • Indeed Pete.

      I agree that food retailers need a course in material identification. The lecturer can hold up a piece of fruit for identification and when the retail manager shouts out, “It’s a gold ingot” he can receive 12 lashes with the cat (SPCA might object a little – but we’ll tell ’em it’s for a good cause).

      It’s situations like these that will make attending the self-defense course with fruit just that bit more prohibitive.

      Food retailers will attempt to rebut this tactic by asking how we consumers can take a fruit called Fuerte seriously. I mean, I don’t speak Estonian but Fuerte is just plain funny isn’t it? No, seriously. It’s an ill wind….

      And yes – will keep in touch re your avos. Let me know when they’re pickable…. the appreciation is sizeable.

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