Grocery Stores: ‘The Best Of America And The Worst Of America’

“In a typical grocery store how many different products are you gonna find?”
“Forty-thousand of them in a typical grocery store.”

That’s forty-thousand different brand name products, not forty thousand individual items. Sound like a long shot? It did to me until Michael Ruhlman ranted about barbecue sauce for a minute… “Who the hell needs that much barbecue sauce?” He said.

Who the hell does need that much barbecue sauce?

The news show talks about the massive luxury of unlimited food selection that Americans are conditioned to expect. Grocery stores either offer this selection or perish because customers will go to a different store to find the product that they came for. At the end of the show Michael Ruhlman predicted that people will start to order most of their basic items online, and grocery store will be able to limit their product range a little bit. He described it as reverting to old school markets that used to carry a relatively small amount of specialty items.

I think this news report is accurate. They keep it concise and to-the-point, and Michael Ruhlman has wrote a book called Grocery: the Buying and Selling of Food in America so he probably knows what he’s talking about.

Perhaps Ruhlman’s prediction that American grocery stores will become more specialized in the future is just completely wrong. It is possible that grocery stores will continue the pattern of enlarging their product range. If you could make the choice would you prefer that grocery stores all over America limit their product selection (and inherently, their waste) or have all the selection available now?  If you think that stores should try to reduce their waste by carrying fewer products what if you wanted to make something and the first grocery store you went to didn’t have an essential ingredient… would you go to another store?

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