business news in context, analysis with attitude

On the subject of plastic bags…and my comment this week that if stores are going to offer canvas bags, thy need to tell their checkout people how to deal with them…

MNB user Robyn Lydick wrote:


And to the managers of food stores: Tell the baggers HOW to pack these sacks (no, you can’t put bread under grapes just because the bag bears more weight), and tell every checker if you offer a nickel back or any other campaign, so we don’t have to be pushy or decide we’d rather go where the clerks and baggers have a clue (or get out of the way and let us bag our own).

For those of us who use mesh produce bags, teaching your clerks how to enter the tare weight (it’s on my bags’ labels) so that I’m not paying for the weight of my bag would be appreciated. You can also train them to take the six apples out, weigh them and then place them back in the bag, but entering tare weight is easier and faster.

MNB user Ed Martin wrote:

Over the past month, my local Costco has been offering reusable bags right at the front door. These bags are made from a plastic-type resin with a “canvas-like” feel. They are considerably larger than the typical grocery bag, and have a flat floor. Prior to getting the bags, the courtesy clerks always offered to pack my small goods in boxes. We didn’t like having to breakdown the cardboard and store it until we go to the recycling center so we opted to just take the goods loose in the cart and place them in the trunk of the car. With the bags, we now can have these items placed together for easier transfer to the car and ultimately to the kitchen. On the negative side, once full, these bags can weight as much as 40 pounds, which means either I or one of my sons has to haul them into the house. The solution on this is to watch the person bagging the items and offer “helpful” advice as to how they should be packed (the curse of many years in store operations), or better yet bag them myself.

MNB user Sue DeRemer wrote:

Every time we go shopping, my science-teacher husband gives the checkout clerk a lesson in why it's bad to use so many bags (they tend to under-fill the bags). My favorite part of the lecture is when he tells them that bags are made of oil. They always look astonished, and then disbelieving. When it becomes clear that they're not getting it, he says "pretend this is Costco". Then they get it. They stop bagging large items and fill the bags full. Never fails…

Another MNB user wrote:

I just wanted to draw your attention that at Trader Joe’s, the canvas bag shopping bags (and the coated paper bags, which last quite well, even if not as endlessly as a canvas bags) are not only available – when you unfold one for use at the register, the clerk whips out a pad for you to fill out that enter you in a drawing for a $25 gift certificate.

“Our way of saying thank you for your using our bags and being good to the environment” my local clerk told me the first time it happened.

I have since gone in with cloth bags that were not from Trader Joe’s and they still enter me in the drawing each time.

Just another case where the good small company that is Trader Joe’s executes better than many larger competitors.

MNB reported on a study about “food miles” the other day, and about the contradictory evidence that keeps customers confused. Which med MNB user Elizabeth Archerd to write:

Good for you for posting the study about carbon footprints and food miles. This is extremely relevant for developing countries. The British Soil Association is considering a policy of refusing to allow imported foods to bear the organic label. Farmers in Kenya are up in arms - they need that designation, which they have earned by their farming practices, to survive. Are poor African farmers responsible for global warming?

As the saying goes, every time the industrial world catches a cold, Africa gets pneumonia.

We had a piece yesterday about a study saying that food tastes better to preschool kids when it comes wrapped in McDonald’s packaging.

And I commented: While I generally side with those who believe that better parenting, and not more legislation, is the preferred way to have an impact on the eating habits and nutritional attitudes of kids, studies like these tend to weaken my resolve. There’s only one reason that McDonald’s wrappers have this kind of impact – Mickey D’s has spent a gazillion dollars on marketing, and it appears to have gotten its money’s worth. Maybe legislation that establishes what McDonald’s and companies like it can say, and to whom they can say it, is the only way to level the playing field. Maybe.

Or, maybe not.

MNB user Michael Phelan wrote:

I'm not a parent and well aware that it is easier from the spectator section, but the idea of legislating this seems ridiculous.

Thirty years ago, my mother knew enough about nutrition not to allow us to have fast food more often than as an occasional treat. Childhood obesity and nutrition concerns weren't on the news every night and she didn't have (or need) Oprah or the ladies of The View to tell her.

Today, all you need to do is stand in the cereal aisle and observe how parents and children interact. Almost half of the parents simply say to their children "Choose one box each - whichever you want." My mom wouldn't even let us walk down the cereal aisle! We had to meet her in the next aisle and of course she was the one who decided what would be purchased. Often it was oatmeal or farina and the like.

Parents are responsible for the food their children eat, not the manufacturers, not the restaurants and certainly not our legislators. Parents need to stop crying about this issue and prepare their kids a few healthy meals and tell them to go out and play!

P.S. Yes, I also had to walk a mile uphill, both ways to get to school…

MNB user Jeremy Sacker wrote:

To your comment above, maybe we should outlaw marketing to anyone who is impressionable, or outlaw marketing all together. We need the government to protect us from ourselves. No one in the US is capable of sifting through all of the marketing hype. Come on, when are we going to start taking responsibility for our own decisions and teaching our kids? I am overweight, and guess what. It's my fault, not McDonald's, Burger King, Nestle, M&M Mars, nor anyone else.

The only thing I ask of marketers is that they are truthful, and I have never heard McDonald's state that a Big Mac is good for me.

MNB user Al Kober chimed in:

All the advertising in the world won't provide sustained sales, if the product doesn't meet the expectation of the consumer. Don't forget, McDonalds makes food that taste good (at least for kids) and then marketed that food. Kids want McDonalds because they associate their desire with the taste and not only because of the advertisement. That just get them to try it once, the reason they keep coming back is the same reason you like to eat at all those fancy places eating food with names no one understands but sounds like something you want to be identified with, just like the kids, you like it and the kids like it.

MNB user Clayton R. Hoerauf wrote:

I can barely believe my eyes! More legislation? I predict you will experience in box overload for that statement. Humans become lemmings by choice, not by genetic evolution. Don’t let advertising and marketing people decide what you THINK you like. It’s that simple.

I said maybe

One MNB user saw a business opportunity…

It may not work in the long term, but if McDonalds wanted to make a quick buck they should simply sell McDonalds wrappers in the local grocery stores. That way parents like me could wrap the kids’ peanut butter and jelly sandwiches in them instead of baggies or waxed paper when packing the kids’ lunches for school.

Another MNB user wrote:

Or you can have the schools wrap all the fresh fruits, vegetables, milk, etc in McDonald's wrappers or cartons and maybe they'll eat healthier.

Still another MNB user wrote:

I just have to LOL at this story. My daughter was 38 this year. When she was still in a high chair, I use to "recycle" the McDonald's wrappers we would have. They were all paper then, no clamshells yet, but, w/care, you could use them over. When there was a food I knew she was not too fond of, I would put it in, say, a McD french fry bag. In the mouth it went. No problems. I should have realized then I would end up in sales & marketing.

KC's View: