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Off topic: For people who live in the UK: LIDL
Thread poster: Andrea Re

Andrea Re  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 01:55
English to Italian
+ ...
Sep 5, 2005

Hi there,

sorry to bore you with this "mundane" matter, but does anybody know how LIDL works? I have been shopping there for a while because its fruit and veg are SO cheap (it's at worse as expensive as Tesco, at best 1/2 price). I don't understand how they can survive with those prices (and besides, their stuff is good!). A lot of packed stuff, mostly imported from continental Europe, is extremely convenient as well.
How can that be? Am I going to grow an extra arm or eye any time soon (which may help with the typing and proofreading:) ). Am I getting a "free lunch" or what????

Andrea


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Sonja Allen  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 01:55
Member (2005)
English to German
+ ...
They save by not investing much into the look of their supermarkets Sep 5, 2005

Hi, don't know much why they can offer fruit and veg so cheap, considering that even Tesco and the like seemingly ruin farmers in South-Africa by cutting so much the prices for grapes for example. I am no expert on Lidl, but in Germany (where Lidl comes from), food is so much cheaper in the supermarkets, so it doesn't come as a surprise to me that Lidl can offer the same cheap prices over here as well. Moreover, German supermarkets do not invest so much into the looks of their supermarkets. Goods are, for example, often still in the boxes they were shipped in, the interior of the supermarkets is minimalist etc. You do not have such a nice atmospheric shopping there, as you have in the big supermarkets here, but you find much cheaper prices.

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Rebekka Groß  Identity Verified
Local time: 01:55
English to German
have a look at their UK web site Sep 5, 2005

Hi Andrea,

You're absolutely right about the prices. Even when they don't have half price offers on fruit and veg, they're usually still cheaper than the big UK supermarkets.

Some of your questions might be answered on the Lidl web site, particularly the page about the company's philosophy:

http://www.lidl.co.uk/gb/home.nsf/pages/c.service.au.philosophy.index

BTW, Aldi is another German discount store that offers some fab products. For stores near you, check their web site at: http://www.aldi.co.uk/

Regards,
Rebekka


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xxxMarc P  Identity Verified
Local time: 02:55
German to English
+ ...
For people who live in the UK: LIDL Sep 5, 2005

Andrea Re wrote:

I don't understand how they can survive with those prices


Simple: they can because the farmers can't.

I recently heard that German farmers receive 0.09 Euros per kilo for potatoes. Compare that to the price of a kilo of potatoes in the store.

Marc

[Edited at 2005-09-05 10:27]


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Andrea Re  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 01:55
English to Italian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
For people who live in the UK: LIDL Sep 5, 2005

MarcPrior wrote:

Andrea Re wrote:

I don't understand how they can survive with those prices


Simple: they can because the farmers can't.

I recently heard that German farmers receive 0.09 (Euro) cents per kilo for potatoes. Compare that to the price of a kilo of potatoes in the store.

Marc


yes indeed, Mark!

I understand all the bulk buying and stuff, but last week I bought a kilo of peaches, imported from Italy, for 49p!!! and this week some nectarines at the same price. I am originally from Italy and I don't think you can buy stuff that cheap, not even at the fruit market. Maybe the wholesale market will have those prices, but I wouldn't know because when they are operational I am usually in bed:).
As it was pointed out, there are gruesome stories about Tesco and its suppliers, so how can LIDL be SO INCREDIBLY competitive? (example: bananas in Tesco 39p/£; LIDL 44p/Kg!!!!!!). Mind you, I am not complaining, but I feel that there is a catch somewhere. (and if there isn't Tesco should be named and shamed for ripping us off non-stop).
ù
Andrea


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Sara Freitas
France
Local time: 02:55
French to English
Good point, Marc Sep 5, 2005

We all love a bargain, but chances are, if it's unbelievably cheap then *somebody* is paying for it (child labor, forcing farmers into poverty, the environment, etc.).

The only way to fight these practices is to buy intelligently.

Regards,

Sara


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Marijke Singer  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 01:55
Dutch to English
+ ...
Very good point Marc Sep 5, 2005

Sara Freitas-Maltaverne wrote:

We all love a bargain, but chances are, if it's unbelievably cheap then *somebody* is paying for it (child labor, forcing farmers into poverty, the environment, etc.).

The only way to fight these practices is to buy intelligently.

Regards,

Sara


A few weeks back there was a programme on TV on how the supermarkets do it (all of them) and basically they have a 'monopoly' system because they are the bulk buyers (other shops such as corner shops and high street fruit and veg shops are virtually gone). Same thing with milk. With milk it is even worse because it is classed as the article that will bring in the shopper (consumer) into your supermaket (they have a special name for it but I have forgotten it). The cheaper you sell your milk, the more shoppers you will have who will also buy your other products.

I was disgusted after watching this programme and have decided to try avoiding the supermarkets in future. You don't know how difficult this is!


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Andrea Re  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 01:55
English to Italian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
don't think it is the case Sep 5, 2005

Sara Freitas-Maltaverne wrote:

We all love a bargain, but chances are, if it's unbelievably cheap then *somebody* is paying for it (child labor, forcing farmers into poverty, the environment, etc.).

The only way to fight these practices is to buy intelligently.

Regards,

Sara


Hi Sara,

I am not sure it is a matter of child labour (after all most of their stuff is coming form the EU. My guesses are:
1) little or no overheads (style of stores, personnel)
2) They get what is available: not always you find, say, pineapples; in the major supermarkets you find everything 365 days a year.
3) smaller/different selection. After all most of their stuff is quite "exotic"

I don't think that Lidl are any less evil than, say Tesco. The farmers must be the same farmers for everybody, so maybe it is true that Tesco ARE ripping us off. After all we live in a monopoly situation, with the 4 major supermarkets keeping the prices stable (do you remember the banana war a few years back?) with only small differences and, indeed, the prices could come down if there was competition.
Alas, and I say this with regret, the suprmarket policy has killed altogether the small retail industry (hope Italy won't go down that route); LIDL at least give me (kind of )an option with different prices and different merchandise.

Andrea

PS (for Marijke)

unless you go and buy from a local farmer (which I actually do when I have the chance, i.e. when the market comes to Dundee), you simply can't avoid the supermarket. In the UK there is simply no other option.

[Edited at 2005-09-05 10:26]


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Jane Griffiths  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 01:55
Italian to English
There are other options Sep 5, 2005

Andrea Re wrote:

unless you go and buy from a local farmer (which I actually do when I have the chance, i.e. when the market comes to Dundee), you simply can't avoid the supermarket. In the UK there is simply no other option.

[Edited at 2005-09-05 10:26]


There are other options, at least in Bristol. Most of my fruit and veg come from:

1. a regular organic veg bag delivery
2. my local greengrocer, who is generally cheaper than most supermarkets and has lots of local produce
3. the local farmers' and slow food markets

I find that supermarket fruit and veg doesn't usually taste of much.

I tried my local Aldi, but couldn't stand the long queue at the check-out - There are 6 tills, but only one of them was open

Happy eating!
Jane


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Sara Freitas
France
Local time: 02:55
French to English
I mean in general, not necessarily just LIDL Sep 5, 2005

Andrea Re wrote:

Hi Sara,

I am not sure it is a matter of child labour (after all most of their stuff is coming form the EU. My guesses are:
1) little or no overheads (style of stores, personnel)
2) They get what is available: not always you find, say, pineapples; in the major supermarkets you find everything 365 days a year.
3) smaller/different selection. After all most of their stuff is quite "exotic"



Andrea,

Of course I was not trying to accuse LIDL of exploiting children. I understand that *one* of the ways they keep prices down is by keeping their stores relatively "rough" with little or no signage and displays, less staff, etc.

What I am saying is that when you buy apples for 2 cents a pound or a t-shirt for 3 euros or anything else at a price that defies all logic (but not necessarily *only* cheap items), *someone* is usually paying in some other way (financially, socially, environmentally) so that the retailer can offer you, the customer, that rock-bottom price. Again, as consumers, the only thing we can really do about this is to try to spend our money intelligently whenever possible.

Regards,
Sara


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xxxLia Fail  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 02:55
Spanish to English
+ ...
corner shops are 'cheaper' Sep 5, 2005

Marijke Singer wrote:

Sara Freitas-Maltaverne wrote:

We all love a bargain, but chances are, if it's unbelievably cheap then *somebody* is paying for it (child labor, forcing farmers into poverty, the environment, etc.).

The only way to fight these practices is to buy intelligently.

Regards,

Sara


A few weeks back there was a programme on TV on how the supermarkets do it (all of them) and basically they have a 'monopoly' system because they are the bulk buyers (other shops such as corner shops and high street fruit and veg shops are virtually gone). Same thing with milk. With milk it is even worse because it is classed as the article that will bring in the shopper (consumer) into your supermaket (they have a special name for it but I have forgotten it). The cheaper you sell your milk, the more shoppers you will have who will also buy your other products.

I was disgusted after watching this programme and have decided to try avoiding the supermarkets in future. You don't know how difficult this is!


Milk, as also other basic products, are called 'loss leaders'. Note how the trend is to brand even products as humble as the potato, becuase branding represents a way of adding value for the retailer/distributor, and adding a mostly unnecessary cost for the consumer, primarily in packaging and publicity ...

In 3 neighbourhoods in the 3 towns/cities I have lived in in recent years I have seen corner shops close becuase they can't compete with supermarkets. People say 'supermarkest are cheaper', and yes, item for item they are, but we need also to take into account hidden costs, such as the cost of petrol required for transport to/from the supermarket, the fact that we are often tempted to buy more than we need, environmental damage from packaging etc., and exploitation back along the supply line. Farmers in Spain have taken to giving away produce free to protest against the low prices they receive compared to the end price to the consumer.

'Fast Food Nation' by Eric Schlosser was a really interesting - unputdownable - book that discussed the hidden costs behind the mass-distribution food industry (e.g. labour exploitation, damage to the environment - such as clearing forests to raise cattle for burgers, and from the need for transport networks which caslo consume energy, the layers of packaging that is typical of supermarkets, the spreading of disease arising from intensive farming methods, etc).

So corner shops are really not so 'expensive' after all, and they also form the backbone of a community. Sadly, since my only local shop closed 2 months ago, I have no option but to drive 3kms to a choice of 5 major supermarkets for a town of 15,000 people (plus catchment area). The only 'local' shops left are the antiquated ones (which will shortly disappear when the owners die); already one of the two local bars has closed (since the shop closed), evidence of a bread shop that closed down in the not too recent past is still there ...the end of a way of life and a community.

By the way, maybe it's not a question of exploiting child labour in the EU, but it often IS a question of exploiting immigrant labour. Not all farmers are small, independent producers, in fact many of them are big businesses themselves, who are happy to employ cheap labour in the form of immigrants, employed with/without documentation, most often employed seasonally, who live in terrible conditions, etc.

[Edited at 2005-09-05 12:02]


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Heinrich Pesch  Identity Verified
Finland
Local time: 03:55
Member (2003)
Finnish to German
+ ...
Lidl's stuff mostly high quality Sep 5, 2005

Lidl's philosophy has much in common with Ikea's. They contract producers, guarantee steady demand, but offer extremely low prices. Producers get dependend and cannot say no when Lidl cuts prices the next time. This works till the producer goes down the hill. Who cares.
In the last three years after Lidl came to Finland the competition had to cut prices and try to copy the Lidl concept with no-name brands. I believe Lidl is still making heavy losses here, but the market share is near 5 percent already. After all the own products are sold here for a much higher price than in Germany, but still much cheaper than the Finnish competition does.
I buy from Lidl only these products: Sauerkraut, tomato-tins, walnut-icecream, dark chocolate, müsli, choriza-sausage, green tea. The rest from normal supermarkets.


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Marijke Singer  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 01:55
Dutch to English
+ ...
Loss leaders Sep 5, 2005

That was it!

That programme on TV was a real eye-opener. I think I might buy the book you recommend. Thanks, Ailish!

I am lucky. We have a proper market every Friday (fruit, veg, cheese and some dry goods). Once a month we also have a farmers' market with meat and such (lovely apple juice). The corner shop has long gone, though. We are also surrounded by PYO places which is a lot of fun when you go with the children but usually only open from June to August.


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Lesley Clarke  Identity Verified
Mexico
Local time: 19:55
Spanish to English
What an interesting discussion Sep 6, 2005

I have been doing my best to stay out of supermarkets for years for all the reasons cited here. It is wonderful to know I am not just a lone excentric.

Of course in Mexico we still have good markets, but all too many people use the supermarkets instead. I find the service is much better in markets and I prefer to buy from people who are their own bosses rather than from the poor wage-slaves in the supermarkets. And why should I help multi-millionaires to become richer than they already are?


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Stephanie Wloch  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 02:55
Member (2003)
Dutch to German
Working conditions Sep 6, 2005

LIDL, Schlecker and Aldi are well known for treating their workers bad. With much pressure and sometimes really like slaves. Trade unions are constantly complaining about that.
I don't want to support that even not indirectly.
The same thing on the market :
if the boss at a market stand is humiliating his employees.
His fruit to is tasting bitter and I don't like to buy there anymore.


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