Supermarket Sweep

These days, ?1 in every ?8 we spend goes to Tesco. The company sells more DVDs than HMV, more shampoo than Boots, and its ?4 jeans outsell Levis, Wrangler and Gap put together. Last month, eight pairs were sold every minute.

These are the figures Tesco wants us to remember, but there are other, less palatable statistics. For every ?1 spent on bananas at Tesco, for instance, only 1p goes back to the plantation growers in developing countries – far less than they need to feed their families. An estimated 40p goes to Tesco. Indeed, the company makes a profit of ?1m per week purely from the sale of bananas – enough to employ 30,000 plantation workers full-time and pay them a proper wage.

It is estimated that, every time a supermarket is built, 276 jobs are lost. Between 1976 and 1989 (the dark days of unbridled supermarket expansion), 44,000 food shops and grocers went bust; when a large supermarket opens, according to ethical watchdog Corporate Watch, it results in the closure of every village shop within seven miles.

From Loaded! Why supermarkets are getting richer and richer (Observer, January 25th 2004). Thanks to Dan for the link.