BOGOF Eurocrats! Or – Why Supermarket Multi-Buy Deals Are None Of The EU's Business

BOGOF Eurocrats! Or – Why Supermarket Multi-Buy Deals Are None Of The EU's Business

“Buy One Get One Free” deals in supermarkets are unsustainable and should be banned. So says a new report by the House of Lords European Union Committee called Counting The Cost Of Food Waste.

Already your eyes are glazing over but you’ve got to pay attention. Your freedoms are at stake here – and the EU (and beyond that, its UN overlord) is removing them by stealth.

Here’s the relevant passage from the report, produced by a committee of ennobled placemen and -women you’ve never heard of, headed by one Baroness Scott of Needham Market. (Who she? Former president of a party called the Liberal Democrats, it would seem).

It is clear that retailers must assume a far greater responsibility for the prevention of food waste in the home. Retailers must ensure that incentives and promotions offered to consumers do not transfer waste from the store to the household.

The report singles out Buy One Get One Free (BOGOF) deals for especial opprobrium. Apparently they’re partly responsible for the 222 million tonnes of food wasted by the industrialised nations every year – something Baroness Scott describes as “morally repugnant” and which she believes is the job of the European Union to address.

There are at least three problems with this.

The first is that there is no evidence that BOGOF deals contribute significantly to food waste. (H/T Christopher Snowdon)

The second is that there is nothing “morally repugnant” about the fact that, thanks to technological advances in agriculture, we most of us have more than enough food for our needs. What Baroness Scott and her fellow bean-counting EU miserablists call “waste” is in fact a manifestation of our good fortune in living in a world where there has never been more abundance. We should be celebrating this, not feeling guilty about it.

The third – and most worrying – lies in the notion that it is any of the European Union’s damned business how supermarkets should or shouldn’t sell their produce. If supermarkets and their customers find BOGOF deals worthwhile, that’s fine. If they don’t find them worthwhile, that’s fine too.

This is how free markets operate – the constant interaction between what retailers offer and what customers find most appealing. The moment outside entities like the EU step into regulate that process is the moment when the infinite subtleties of the market mechanism are lost, replaced by ham-fisted statist control-freakery which leaves everyone more poor and less free.


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