The news that two UK supermarkets have admitted to price fixing of milk and some associated dairy products is of no great surprise. That they will be fined less by by the Office Of Fair Trading for their admission is moderately surprising and that a further two supermarkets are yet to admit to any wrongdoing dependent on how they are treated after any possible admission is perhaps typical of the lack of real teeth that many regulatory bodies have in such matters.
Free market practices are sometimes not in the overall interest of the consumer. In this case the dairies may have been complicit in turning a blind eye to what the big supermarkets were doing in the name of getting a fair price for the producers but at the end of the day supermarkets in the UK now wield so much power that they will always try to bend the rules in their favour and know that being found out will earn them a light slap on the wrist and another round of public scrutiny which they no doubt feel they can easily cope with.
Many will argue that supermarkets should work unrestrained by government legislation but I don’t subscribe to that rose tinted view of unregulated markets giving us what we want. We all know the maxim ‘power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely’. Restrictions and legislation are necessary , used akin to a sharp jerk of Barbara Woodhouse’ choke chain on an ill behaved dog together with the application of a muzzle to protect the animal from harming too many others.
Until the next time.