I was walking through Walmart, as you do on a Saturday afternoon, and stopped in front of the ketchup aisle.
First of all, I didn’t realize how many variations of ketchup there was… Less Sodium, No Sugar Added, Hot and Spicy, Original. Maybe I’m a Plain Jane, but is there really a market for different types of ketchup?
The second thing I noticed was where this variety was located- at the top of the shelves. It’s a good 6 ft. off of the floor. Now let’s assume Walmart stocks their shelves according to traditional gender roles. The average woman is 5’7, maybe shorter. She’s buying the groceries. They cannot reach the top shelf. So yes, Walmart is offering five different flavours, but really they are only making one accessible. The 750 ml, “Easy Squeeze”, original flavoured, Heinz Tomato Ketchup for $4.36.
(Side note: you can buy the 1 litre regular bottle of Heinz Ketchup for $3.47… so easy packaging costs you more for less product.)
Now, let’s tilt our heads and attention to the top row. The variations of “easy-squeeze” ketchup won’t cost you more than the original. That was a surprise to me. I thought consumers would be charged more for options.
The third thing I noticed was the green bottle on the right hand side of the collection. The organic option.
For $5.97 you can buy a 750ml, “easy squeeze” bottle of Heinz Tomato Ketchup. That’s a difference of $1.61.
What are you paying extra for? The promise of no chemicals coming in contact with the prize Heinz tomatoes.
In some cases, you’ll pay more for organic items because you are supporting local farmers instead of large corporations. But I’m having a hard time believing Heinz would hire a small farm in Manitoba to produce their organic tomatoes and not the rest.
The difference in price seems a bit ridiculous to me. Plus, from a business perspective, wouldn’t Walmart want to display the more expensive product at eye-level? So that means when Heinz agreed to sell their product in Walmart, they also get to determine what the selection will look like. They want the organic option to be out of eyesight.
This time in front of the ketchup aisle made me realize two things:
- People will stare at you if you stop in front one of section for a long time examining prices, labels, and taking pictures.
- Companies will offer organic versions of their product to please a marginalized group of people, but they actually don’t want you to choose it over the original. Sure they get to charge more, but I can only assume it’s because it costs more to make. Otherwise they would display it front and centre if they were making a larger profit off of it.
Heinz is just one example of charging more for an organic product. For over a dollar more, you can buy the option you want. This got me thinking, how many other companies offer an organic option, charge more, and hide the product out of eye-sight?
I’m going to need to make another trip to the grocery store and take notes this time.