Prices Up, Quality Down

Quality Dried Parsley

Inferior Dried Parsley

The dishes in these two photos contain dried parsley (perejil deshidratado) from the same company, Dos Anclas, one of the top manufacturers and distributors of salt, spices, herbs, oil & vinegar, and so on in Argentina. The dried parsley in the first photo was purchased a few months back. The second one, yesterday. Sad, no? Their packs of dried basil and oregano have been just as bad for months.

Now, I’m not sure if Dos Anclas has switched over to an inferior supplier(s) or if they are cutting corners with the selection process and processing. Either way, whatever the reason, it was a shitty thing to do and does nothing but diminish the quality of your brand that you have been trying to build up all of these years. Unfortunately, this is increasingly becoming a disturbing trend among businesses in the food industry these days, dropping quality to prevent the need for major price increases. Last year, Hershey’s announced that some of their products would no longer contain cocoa butter thus requiring such candy to drop the “milk chocolate” moniker.

I understand the need for companies to find ways of cutting costs in order to keep their products on the shelves. Why, however, do some have to totally ruin the quality of their products? That’s what their name was built on and that’s the last thing that they should have to sacrifice. The bags of parsley I bought were 25 grams. If I removed all of the stems, twigs, or whatever extra is in there, I would probably have 15 grams of leaves left. So sell me a 15 gram bag with pure leaves at the same price if that could fix your financial problem! I don’t need the stems. They are useless and annoying as hell to eat.

The problem is even worse when businesses swap to inferior products or lower quantities and still substantially raise prices. I never kept any price records of dried parsley over the years but I know that it was cheaper a year ago than it is now. I have seen quite a few restaurants or take-out services guilty of this system. You have to wonder how many are doing it for the sole purpose of taking advantage of the situation. “People are expecting higher prices and lower quality so I’ll just go along with it.”

When I first visited Buenos Aires in 1999 for two weeks, I probably had at least five lomitos(steak sandwiches/diminutive of lomo) at just as many different locations. Back then you were sure to have your lomito stuffed with at least a half-inch thick slice of pure lomo(tenderloin), grilled or griddled to perfection. Nowadays, I see some businesses trying to pass off their lomitos with cheaper cuts and they are charging the same prices as the real deal. The other day, I ordered a lomito with cheese and bacon at a sandwich shop down the street. The meat, probably about half a centimeter in thickness, tasted like a gristly rump steak. Waxy cheap cheese and paper-thin flavorless steamed bacon, all served on a thick generic loaf of french bread for 22 pesos. These types of places still pack crowds during lunch hours. My wife says I should open one. Then there are the pizzerias, swapping what was once decent cheese for some sort of nasty concoction that turns into pure oil and tar-like goo when melted.

Decrease portion size. Change your packaging. Become more efficient. Whatever you do, DO NOT decrease the quality of your product unless it is the ultimate last resort. Because when you do and if I don’t like it, you are as good as dead to me.

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