Caveat Emptor. Way, way Emptor!

Do you know what you’re buying? What you’re eating? What you’re drinking? What you’re selling? I bet not . . .


We’re all busy.  There are hundreds of cable channels.  We’re attached to our mobile devices morning, noon, and night.  Our weekends  are filled with the yoga sessions and vegan cooking classes we bought on Groupon.  Our grandparents were “the Greatest Generation.”  We’re the “Distracted Generation.”

While the world is seemingly our oyster, with a variety of options and opportunities open to us, it’s also pretty darn easy to pull the wool over our eyes. 

Here’s a couple of stories from the news lately.  The may seem unrelated.  However, each story reinforces the fact that as consumers, perhaps we’re not getting exactly what we believe we’re getting.

  • This January 22, 2013 article from the Washington Post reports on a Michigan State University study that found more than half of the wine sold in the United States is “produced, licensed or exclusive imported by three companies . . . the top five firms account for more than 200 distinct brands.”  The label on your liquid grapes may say Barefoot or Ecco Domani or Turning Leaf, but it’s coming from the same company. 
  • Does buying orange juice that’s labeled “not from concentrate” mean you’re getting a fresher product?  In order to meet the year-round demand, orange juice companies remove oxygen from the product for aseptic storage.  While this process allows the juice to be stored for up to 12 months, it also strips the juice of its entire flavor.  Juice companies hire the same flavor and fragrance companies that cater to French perfume manufacturers to craft their own custom orange flavor packet.  That “just picked” taste is actually a trademarked blend of chemicals designed to produce a consistent product pleasing to the American palate.
  • There was a serious peanut butter salmonella scare last fall.  In reviewing the massive recall list, it becomes clear that, like the aforementioned wine, a lot of different peanut butter products are coming out of one facility.  High-end retailers like Heinans, Harry & David, and Sprout’s were caught in the mix just as same as Target’s Archer Farm’s house brand and Costco’s Kirkland.  This same factory was even producing Dogsbutter – a peanut butter made exclusively for pets!
  • Finally . . . it appears everyone in Europe has been duped into eating horsemeat.

“But Leigh Anne . . . this is all food news.  One – you need to focus on something other than your appetite.  Two – what the heck does this have to do with credit unions?!??!”

It’s worth taking a moment to pause and consider a few things. 

  • Am I delivering the products and services I’m offering?
  • Am I doing my due diligence on my partners to make sure I’m getting the best services and products for my members? 
  • Am I examining relationships to make sure I’m getting consistent service at the level I need for my members?

It’s easy to continue along a path of least resistance.  It’s easy to fall under the sway of a shiny new marketing message.  But as both service providers and consumers, we need to regularly take the time to examine our products and partners to make sure we’re really giving our members what we tell them.

Otherwise, we all might wind up with a plate full of horsemeat.


Feb. 26, 2013

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