25 Aug2010

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Okay, so this isn’t “major, major” like losing the Ms. Universe pageant, a possible reality the other day, what with Ms. Philippines’ idiotic answer that the vast majority of Filipinos may think was simply cute rather than a condemnation of the deteriorating state of education in the archipelago. Gosh, are beauty and brains really like oil and water? Younger folks forget or don’t even realize perhaps that a previous Filipina Ms. Universe answered her question 4 decades ago with something like “we don’t speak Tagalog at home, only the maids do”… But this post doesn’t have to do with beauty at all, just the absurd state of fruit pricing in our local groceries. I used to joke that I was getting good at “produce arbitrage” — that is the discovery and exploitation of illogical price differentials from various food sources in Manila. I get to the groceries so often that I should really be able to put together a live update on the blog (a la ticker tape style) on retail prices on the fifty most commonly purchased fruits and vegetables. If it were really easy to do this online, with say 50 volunteer readers adding their data by text every time they hit the groceries, we could really piss off the retailers big time… and save filipino consumers millions of pesos per year. :)

So here is what set this off. Yesterday, I purchased four Packham Pears at S & R in Fort Bonifacio for PHP169.95. They don’t sell them by kilo, only in packs of 4, so I weighed my pack when I got home and it was 1.33 kilos in weight, resulting in a price per kilo of PHP127.78 or roughly ($2.80 per kilo, or $1.29 per pound). On the way home, I stopped by Rustan’s Express in front of the San Antonio Church in Forbes Park, just two kilometers away from S&R, and which caters to many of the same customers as S&R. Both have rents to pay, airconditioning bills, staff, etc. While Rustan’s is a small outlet in this particular location, it has several groceries around the metro, and probably a similar if not LARGER buying power that S&R overall. I saw similar Packham pears for sale there, so I browsed at the price of their pears. A whopping PHP199.95 per kilo at Rustan’s, displayed on a pack of 3 packham pears! That is PHP72.17 or 56% MORE than the pears for sale at S&R just two kilometers away! THAT IS SIMPLY OUTRAGEOUS. OUTRAGEOUS. And this type of pricing absurdities continue because (stupid, spendthrift, clueless, careless, dopey, etc.) buyers tolerate it!

I have written posts on prices before, here and here, and on grapes, here. I know for a fact, through friends, that executives of several grocery chains in Manila read this blog for ideas, to see what’s in season, etc. And yes, I hope someone from Rustan’s is reading this right now. Because it will be hard to explain why their fruit appears to be so grossly overpriced. And it’s not just Rustan’s. I noticed a few weeks ago that butternut squashes from Dizon farms at SM Makati, were sold for 30-40% more than the exact same product at the Dizon farm stall in Market!Market! Mall. I realize that it is a free market, and consumers should beware, but this is absurd. Nearly every one I know, rich or not, complains about rising expenses, and yet, it seems that the buyers themselves tolerate such wide disparities in pricing of goods, both basic and more luxurious, like pears. We don’t grow pears in this country, and I would guess there are only a few shipments of pears (imagine how many pears fit into a 20 foot container?) to Manila per month, so it’s truly hard to figure out why the prices are so variable.

Just to drive the point of price disparities home a bit more… Let’s say you are a family of 4 with a combined monthly income of say PHP100,000. You will probably spend between PHP25-30,000 on groceries and food items per month. If you get screwed to the tune of say 10% price differentials based on where you choose to shop, then you stand to “waste” up to say PHP36,000 per year! That’s almost the full year’s tuition at a decent private school. So let your wallets do the talking, buy from retailers who offer the best prices on average and shun grocers that appear to be taking advantage of consumers… One final thought. Let’s say there are between 10,000-15,000 readers of marketmanila that visit the blog at least 2 times a month and live in Metro-Manila, and we assume that on average they influence the expenditure of say PHP30,000 in groceries and marketing per month. On an annual basis that would (at the high end of the estimate) mean roughly PHP5 billion in food/grocery/market purchases. If we all collectively saved just 5-10% because of smarter shopping, that would be a collective savings of PHP250-500 million! Yipes! :)

 

COMMENTS:

  1. Pia says:

    You’re right MM! Thanks for this comparative illustration of price disparity of Packham pears – a basic commodity. Very practical tip but often missed by many..

    Aug 25, 2010 | 11:04 am

     
  2. becky says:

    whoa..that’s a whole lot of numbers. but very very informative! thanks for providing the macro perspective. most of us would just think it’s just a difference of less than a hundred pesos but collectively, it’s more than a hundred million pesos spent in the ‘wrong’ place.

    i think the ‘a la ticker tape’ price update is a wonderful idea. only enlightened consumers can make smart choices and drive prices into equilibrium.

    Aug 25, 2010 | 11:16 am

     
  3. marosee says:

    Thanks so much for this post. Even though I try to avoid Rustan’s because of the overpricing, I’ve come to realize that all supermarkets have low-priced items and high-priced items such that for me to get the best deal, I would need to go to 3 supermarkets at least. I should try to go to the market more often.

    Aug 25, 2010 | 11:46 am

     
  4. Vyan DP says:

    I like that idea of ticker tape price updates too! It will send the retailers into a frenzy probably, knowing that fruits are being monitored. Imagine if we included the rates from Divisoria. Sheesh!

    Slightly out of topic: I do not agree with Pia when she said that Packham Pears is a basic commodity.

    Aug 25, 2010 | 11:51 am

     
  5. Tricia says:

    Thanks for this Marketman! Only confirms my observation that Rustan’s prices are higher. I usually do my grocery shopping in Unimart but buy meats in Shopwise.

    Aug 25, 2010 | 12:00 pm

     
  6. Gerry says:

    I don’t think Rustan’s is known to be a cheap place to buy groceries. I once asked a friend who was working there why the grocery prices were much higher than S&R, and he told me that they carry 3x more item variety. The greater number of choices comes at a higher cost. From a casual observation though, budget conscious shoppers seem to know where to get the best deals and flock to those locations. Have you ever seen Rustan’s really crowded?

    Aug 25, 2010 | 12:15 pm

     
  7. Bubut says:

    that’s why i dont buy fruits at the supermarkets, i just go to the public market and you will also find fresh fruits at reasonable prices. Of course you will not find that type of pear at the sidewalk or at the public market. thanks for the price comparisons

    Aug 25, 2010 | 12:18 pm

     
  8. Joanjean says:

    MM, na-curious naman ako dun sa Miss U delegate na yun. Di ko ma-google, care to share? :)

    Aug 25, 2010 | 12:22 pm

     
  9. jigs says:

    Monitoring retail prices (a la ticker tape style, as you said) is a fantastic idea, MM! If you’re really serious about this, count me in! I go to the grocery a lot and I’ll be more than happy to text/email prices of some basic goods.

    If this little activity pushes through, we can knock some sense into grocers’ heads – in a “major, major” way!

    So now all we need are 49 other volunteers, right? :)

    Aug 25, 2010 | 12:26 pm

     
  10. Doc Harry says:

    Count me in as a price watch volunteer! Especially since I’m on a diet, planning to bump up the fruit intake, and I do my own groceries for the family. I usually go around Shopwise, Robinson’s, and the occasional Rustan’s run when convenience is the priority.

    Aug 25, 2010 | 12:34 pm

     
  11. Labedee82 says:

    Hi MM, I watched the Ms. Universe pageant last night, and I must say Ms. Raj blew it. She was so close in getting that coveted crown. Her answer was dissapointing and meaningless. Nakakahiya ang sagot niya.

    Aug 25, 2010 | 12:44 pm

     
  12. Marketman says:

    As a good friend from Jamaica commented on ym, he wasn’t thrilled with Ms. Jamaica’s evening gown, but Ms. Philippines’ gown was “major,major” long… hahaha. That poor phrase is going to be so overused in the weeks to come…

    Aug 25, 2010 | 12:50 pm

     
  13. marketfan says:

    MM,
    Have you received one of the most popular emails circulating in Manila these days, about cheating in the prices of goods sold in one of the country’s biggest supermarket chains? Apparently, the prices on the shelves or even in the packages do not match prices in the computers or cash register so consumers end up paying more than what they thought was the correct price. Prices of fresh produce are changed everyday and they are not able to change corresponding labels on the goods so discrepancies abound. I can send you a copy of the email if you haven’t read that yet.
    I will also volunteer if you push through with that project comparing prices. Maybe we should have a “basket” of goods and do simultaneous shopping on a day, with volunteers assigned to the different supermarkets.
    MF

    Aug 25, 2010 | 12:50 pm

     
  14. phil says:

    Our house is a short walk to Araneta Center where there are at least 3 major supermarkets: SM, Shopwise, and Rustans. I compared their prices for some common items (canned goods, detergents, vegetables, cooking oil) in several shopping hunts while on vacation. I found that in general SM has the lowest prices and Rustan’s the highest. If that would be of help to readers who also live nearby.

    Aug 25, 2010 | 1:08 pm

     
  15. kurzhaar says:

    Marketman, that sort of price differential is not uncommon in the US–even if you are only comparing major supermarket chains. Throw in smaller grocers, speciality shops, and farmers markets and you have a huge range of prices. In our household we are lucky to have the luxury of being able to choose which shops to patronize for many reasons, including fair employment practices. We”ve favoured Trader Joe’s for decades because they cut out the middleman and generally offer very fair prices and high quality products, plus they treat their employees well. We buy at the local farmers markets because of the quality and freshness and to support local growers, but at least here in the northeast that is definitely not the most economical route to food! Economical shopping includes buying what’s in season, buying quality (so you eat what you buy and don’t throw it out), buying in bulk when it makes sense, and knowing your sources. I personally do not buy meat frequently, but when I do it tends to be not inexpensive (locally grass-fed beef for example–I refuse to buy feedlot beef). But I’d rather have good meat if only occasionally rather than cheap beef every day (eeew…sorry!)

    Aug 25, 2010 | 1:17 pm

     
  16. Betchay says:

    Hey c’mon guys….let’s give Ms Raj a break…..she was nervous….after a decade of no Filipinas in the Top 5, I think she did pretty well. Let’s be proud of her. Bonggang bongga!(trans: major-major!) :)

    Aug 25, 2010 | 1:29 pm

     
  17. Nadia says:

    That’s why it pays to live in the provinces when it comes to fresh food and affordable prices — we have more local farmer’s markets than groceries…and our produce only travel a short distance from where they were grown/harvested. Even fish/seafood that you find in Farmer’s Market is really not FRESH, once you’ve seen the fish/seafood we get in areas like Palawan, Bohol, Negros and Mindanao.

    Oh…and yes…we have affordable pears too! :)

    Aug 25, 2010 | 1:38 pm

     
  18. present tense says:

    I stay in Mandaluyong. Can help from there. Allow me though to say that there are issues between chain groceries and brand vendors that go on behind the scenes. A vendor once explained that groceries are actually real estate markets where brand vendors push for prime property and haggle on payment terms, price, volume, shelf space, promos, etc. The established brand vendors push not one but multiple products and cannot discount without quid pro quo. I’m all for the ticker tape but there’s quite a lot of science behind retail management. Just the same – go for it

    Aug 25, 2010 | 1:43 pm

     
  19. xxbaker says:

    I like the ticker tape idea! A collaboratively and regularly updated, side-by-side, per-product price comparison tool of the major major produce/products of the major major supermarkets would be good. That would be major major. In fairness to Venus, i think it was one of the trickiest questions to answer among the 5. It is certainly not any easier to answer a question like that while the whole world is watching. The pressure is major major. Regarding Rustans at Forbes park: I prefer to think of it as a sosyal 7-11.

    Aug 25, 2010 | 2:00 pm

     
  20. sunshines_mommy says:

    what bugs me is the price per kilo difference for the same produce within the same grocery! like green beans, or potatoes! you might just pick up the wrong bag (with minimal branding) and there you go… big price jump.

    Aug 25, 2010 | 2:27 pm

     
  21. Ains says:

    I do wonder how much of this is intentional, versus the big chains just not doing enough price comparisons and just slap on a price they randomly choose?

    Aug 25, 2010 | 2:57 pm

     
  22. Gniki says:

    Hi MM…I agree with your idea of having something like a ticker tape for the prices of groceries or even something like a wikipedia setup but for goods and prices. If one could only compare the prices of different goods sold at different groceries, then the savings would be phenomenal. Now what would it take to make and maintain a database of price info that could be easily accessible, lets say via the web? hmmmhmmm…

    Aug 25, 2010 | 3:14 pm

     
  23. Blaise says:

    Rustan’s is expensive, nice merchandise though, but basic commodities wise, they’re expensive.

    Aug 25, 2010 | 3:16 pm

     
  24. present tense says:

    Aug 25, 2010 | 3:28 pm

     
  25. Ley says:

    Thank you very much for this post MM. We usually drop by Rustan’s after office to purchase groceries. 90% of the time, I don’t pay attention to the prices because after a grueling day at the office I feel I no longer have the energy to compare prices. But with this post, I am resolved to boycott Rustan’s. I know the prices there are higher than in other grocery stores but I did not realized that the difference is that big.

    Aug 25, 2010 | 3:55 pm

     
  26. Lhai says:

    With regard to your main post, thanks for the illustration and computation of would-be savings. Consumers should really just try to be more informed. We must compare not only prices but also that of quality.
    About the Ms. Universe thing: I believe the candidate’s answer was not idiotic at all. :) What is idiotic is the Ms Universe who said “we don’t speak tagalog at home, only the maids do!” Duh!!! Hehe!!!
    People here in the Philippines believe that being fluent in English is actually a manifestation of intelligence noh?! Funny! :)

    Aug 25, 2010 | 5:26 pm

     
  27. enrick says:

    People here in the Philippines believe that being fluent in English is actually a manifestation of intelligence noh?! Funny! :)

    sumasang ayon po ako sa inyo Lhai…

    Aug 25, 2010 | 5:41 pm

     
  28. Mom-Friday says:

    Count me in on the Ticker Tape MM!
    I go on weekly groceries, sometimes with quick trips mid-week — my general observation in my area:
    Puregold – generally cheaper for dry goods, poor produce selection
    SM – overall averaged pricing, widest selection, except for meat section
    Unimart – selective items with lower prices, best quality produce among the 3

    Aug 25, 2010 | 6:18 pm

     
  29. Marnie says:

    Hi MM,
    Here in Sydney, fruit prices vary on the suburb, the competition (presence of other groceries or fruit shops) and the quality of the produce. In my suburb, it’s quite expensive to buy at the grocery and fruit shops so my husband and I drive one suburb away to get cheaper fruits and other grocery items. The savings could be anywhere from 30-50% so we don’t mind driving a few kilometres.
    Usually, even in the grocery, we can buy either loose fruit or pre-packed fruit. But even the pre-packed fruits come in kilo/half-kilo/3 kilo bags and not pieces. It’s truly an odd way to pre-pack fruits, in 3s and 4s.

    Aug 25, 2010 | 6:27 pm

     
  30. Tricia says:

    If ever I need fruits in bulk(for juicing), I buy them by the boxes from my suki in Divisoria. Yun talaga lowest price! I just make sure I have space in my ref for them.

    Aug 25, 2010 | 7:12 pm

     
  31. S says:

    Oh, but Marketman, doesn’t the membership fee at S&R make up for the difference vis a vis Rustan’s? Or not?

    Aug 25, 2010 | 7:34 pm

     
  32. S says:

    But Marketman, doesn’t the membership fee at S&R make up for the difference vis a vis Rustan’s? Or not?

    Aug 25, 2010 | 7:35 pm

     
  33. Chris says:

    I’ve been thinking of how to do a PriceWatch sort of thing online but don’t know yet how to execute. I’m in a household that spends approximately P30K per month on supermarket/grocery runs and figured there’s got to be ways to make that expenditure go lower.

    Aug 25, 2010 | 8:43 pm

     
  34. Catherine says:

    I am from Dizon Farms and I sincerely apologize for the mix up in the price of butternut squash. We had an abundant supply of butternut squash that is why we reduced its price in all stores. Unfortunately, the person in charge of pricing had to go on emergency leave and there was no proper turnover of responsibilities.

    Some products for SM were on a separate page and not included in her master list and the reliever did not see that list. She came from a different department and did not realize that we carry butternut squash in SM.

    We have already remedied the situation and we apologize for any inconvenience we may have
    caused. We truly appreciate your feedback.
    P.S.
    MM, kindly send me your email ad because I misplaced the one you gave me.

    Aug 25, 2010 | 9:08 pm

     
  35. giancarlo says:

    You really need to start that price project. Start with fruits and vegetables, then supermarket goods, and finally gas and other stuff like that. Come on MM we know you can do this.

    Aug 25, 2010 | 9:22 pm

     
  36. chinky says:

    Live in the south and do my grocery shopping in Makati Supermarket, S&R, and South Supermarket. There are always items more expensive in one, the meat is better/cheaper in another, etc. You just have to know the prices. My husband laughs at me as i comb these supermarkets all in one morning each time i have to do my shopping. Tiring and a lot of work but i enjoy it!

    Aug 25, 2010 | 9:26 pm

     
  37. Marketman says:

    Catherine, thank you so much for your explanation, and I am happy the disparity has been remedied. You can reach me at the contact form on the blog, up top, address hasn’t changed. Thanks. S, the membership at S&R is roughly PHP700 a year, so if you buy a substantial amount of groceries, it is more than made up for by the price. In fact, if you compare shopping at S&R that charges NO parking fee versus a grocery in a mall that charges PHP30-45 every time you go, you are already ahead at S&R. Having said that Rustan’s in Forbes has no parking fee either. Personally, I tend to find some good prices at SM, S&R, Cash& Carry, Landmark Grocery, Cherry Foodarama, Unimart, etc. And we do a LOT of our food shopping at wet markets, where prices can be 30-40% cheaper than the top groceries. We only go to Divisoria 2-3x a year, but when we do go we get lots of dry goods that last a while (packaging, paper, plastics, etc.).

    Aug 25, 2010 | 10:26 pm

     
  38. Wills says:

    I am sorry but I am extremely offended by this post. The characterization that Ms. Philippines’ answer was “idiotic” is uncalled for and I take offense. Less than impeccable communication skill does not equate to idiocy. Venus rose from her family’s adversity to attain this amazing accomplishment and she deserves respect than what was posted here. This is an example of insensitive (read as “boorish”) attitude towards the “vast majority of Filipinos” (i.e., mga masa) who struggle to gain access to quality education as compared to a handful Filipino families.

    Aug 26, 2010 | 3:11 am

     
  39. Kate says:

    IAM A REGULAR CUSTOMER OF RUSTAN’S MAKATI
    AND FAR AS I KNOW RUSTAN’S HAS MANY SUPPLIERS
    AND I USUALLY BOUGHT PACKHAM PEARS WORTH 160.00PHP PER KILO. SO NOT ALL RUSTAN’S HAS SAME PRICES WITH THERE VEGETABLES AND FRUIT.

    Aug 26, 2010 | 9:26 am

     
  40. Marketman says:

    Kate, which branch of Rustan’s has packham pears at PHP160 per kilo currently? That would be good to know. But they would still be 25.21% more expensive than the ones mentioned above from S&R. Have you ever compared their green apple prices and grapes with other groceries as well?

    Aug 26, 2010 | 10:12 am

     
  41. Cathy says:

    Prices are Rustan’s are really higher compared to most supermarkets. Well, you pay for the ambience and the quality of service. Cherry Foodarama is the cheapest of all, but it is a mess.

    Regarding the answer of Ms.Phils. I agree with you that sadly, Filipinos, no longer speak fluent English the way they do before when the Phils.was considered the third largest speaking country in the world. Blame it on our educational system, and the mass media, where every foreign show is translated into Tagalog. What a sorry state!

    Aug 26, 2010 | 10:47 am

     
  42. Ai says:

    I seldom buy grocery items in rustans since they are really higher priced. When I shop in rustans my total bill is P500 to P1000 higher than when I shop in Robinsons supermarket. Cause the P1 to P2 peso difference in small items do add up.

    Aug 26, 2010 | 10:57 am

     
  43. corianderie says:

    True, “idiotic” may be too hurtful a word to describe the way Venus answered the question, but the truth is, she really did look like one compared to the other 4 finalists. I feel for her, she must have very nervous. But the other 4 must have been, too. It’s pathetic to use her background as a reason to justify her answer, and insensitive and unfair to the other 4 who in all probability trained hard and overcame their own challenges to reach the top 5.

    The point is, this was a contest. And she didn’t win. Perhaps better training was needed.

    Like how better training is needed for store personnel who greet you “Good morning, may I help you?” and when you ask them a question, they end up tongue-tied and calling several other mates to help out until you figured the answer out yourself after a good 10 minutes…

    Like how better training is needed for police & media in emergency cases such as that truly embarrassing tourist bus hostage fiasco.

    We just have to, as a nation, collectively aim higher, way way higher.

    Aug 26, 2010 | 11:04 am

     
  44. Marketman says:

    Wills, you are certainly entitled to take offense. But I stand by my description of the answer being “idiotic” – defined as “showing lack of thought or common sense” as defined by Merriam Webster dictionaries. Read this link to see what the actual question was and the answer (as well as another idiotic answer from an American beauty contestant years ago).

    Baldwin: “What is the one big mistake you have made in your life and what did you do to make it right?”

    Answer “…..what a wonderful question…There is nothing major, major, I mean problem that I have done in my life…”

    Nervous? Yes. Polite? Yes. Stalled for several seconds with a greeting and claim that is was a wonderful question? Yes.

    But did she give a thoughtful and/or common sense answer to the question? No.

    Therefore, in my book, in answer to that particular question, a question of GREATEST importance in her quest for the title of Ms. Universe( where no contestants from Mars or Venus or Saturn and hence not a Ms. Universe at all), her answer was indeed idiotic.

    I always wonder why we feel compelled to answer in English if it is not our first and most comfortable language. If language was the issue, she could have asked for Bicolano or Filipino interpreter, giving her more time as the question was translated, and maybe a better chance to display her intellectual ability to answer the query. Lack of educational opportunities is a reality, but that does not preclude a thoughtful and common sense answer.

    Several possible answers she could have given:

    Cheeky but confident: “Good evening to the beautiful folks of Las Vegas! Mr. Baldwin, that is a particularly difficult question for me. As a 22 year old, I have made few major mistakes so far, but if I really had to choose one, it is perhaps not asking for an interpreter tonight! Hahaha. Thank you.”

    A potential crowd pleaser: “I come from a small provincial town far from the city of Manila. I spent my childhood doing many common tasks on the farm, including preparing the fields to plant rice. I didn’t know it then, but one mistake I probably made was not studying my English lessons at school as well as I should have, so that I wouldn’t be so nervous answering your question here tonight.”

    Answer the question you WANT to answer and make the question asker look dopey in the process, as the question was not particularly well phrased either. “I take it to mean you are asking what great adversity I have faced, and how I have worked to overcome it. After I won Ms. Philippines, it was discovered that my birth certificate and other papers were incomplete, and I was almost disqualified when it seemed I could not get a passport. But I worked closely with the government authorities and we were able to get a passport and I have traveled out of my country for the first time in my life.”

    If she had used an interpreter, a simple thought and genuine, heartfelt common sense answer might have emerged more readily.

    Check out this link for other Ms. Universe/Beauty pageant booboos (definitely worth a peek).

    Finally, in today’s Philippine Star newspaper, there is a small advertisement by the Dale Carnegie? Institute congratulating Ms. Philippines for placing 4th. Seems they did the language/speech coaching. EGADS. If one of my clients botched up a question like that, I would NOT be advertising that it was I who coached her. Enough said. :)

    P.S. DO NOT EVER ASSUME that social status, wealth and education are the biases of such comments. If you were astute enough to track down the other idiotic answer I referred to in the original post above, I believe it was of Ms. Gloria Diaz answering the thoughtless answer that she only spoke tagalog with the maids… it may have been true, but didn’t make for a great answer. And she came from a well-educated, well-to-do background. Not humble beginnings. Idiotic answers are idiotic, regardless of the person who makes them, idiots or not. Smart folks are prone to idiotic answers some of the time as well…

    Aug 26, 2010 | 11:12 am

     
  45. corianderie says:

    EGADS nga talaga. In-advertise pa? Well, we need better “train-the-trainor” programs then.

    Aug 26, 2010 | 11:20 am

     
  46. mojito drinker says:

    hi mm-

    thanks for sharing the price disparities. it would be great you could start your price project. (could also have the ancillary effect of exposing smugglers…) had the same experience with dizon farms’ stall in marketmarket (cheaper) than dizon farms’ stall in makati. i’d understand if these were sold in different stores (varying # of SKUs, different levels of power in the supply chain, etc.) but in same firm, go figure.

    scary but i think ppl paid the same attention to miss universe as they did to the hostage incident. srsly???

    Aug 26, 2010 | 11:36 am

     
  47. fried-neurons says:

    Apologies if someone’s already asked/commented the same thought, but…

    What with Manila’s horrifyingly horrible traffic, consumers should probably also take into account each store’s distance from their house when doing price comparisons. This is especially true if, say, you just suddenly woke up one morning and decided you had to have some pears (as opposed to doing your grocery shopping for an entire week). You would need to factor in (a) the price of gas (as a factor of distance + time spent idling in traffic) and (b) how much your time is worth (being stuck in traffic). I would imagine just trying to get from SM Makati to Fort Bonifacio does not take a trivial amount of time, right? Granted, the S&R vs Rustan’s price difference is outrageous… I mean hello… one doesn’t even have to cross EDSA… or is traffic on McKinley horrible now as well? :)

    I’m not saying that this is the case with you, but it seems to me that a lot of people get extremely focused on sticker price and end up missing the forest for the trees. I guess the best example I can think of here in CA are those people who will drive 5, 10, or even more miles out of the way just so they can get gas that’s 20 cents per gallon cheaper than average. I have never been one of those people and never will be, because I automatically think about the opportunity cost of saving on the sticker price when making my purchasing decisions.

    On that note, I think I’ll go eat a pear :)

    Aug 26, 2010 | 2:01 pm

     
  48. Marketman says:

    fried neurons, yes, absolutely, gas has to be factored in. And time. We tend to buy in bulk most of the time, so that it’s worth the trip. In Makati or Ortigas however, there are say 5-6 large groceries all within a few minutes of each other, so they really shouldn’t have such large disparities in price. But yes, traffic on Mckinley can get bloody these days… :)

    As for markets, if you just hit a wet market twice a month vs. buying at any grocery produce and fruit and seafood, you would definitely save a LOT of money. Folks might think they have become more prosperous since they now shop at malls or large groceries, but in fact, they will be less prosperous in the long run…

    Aug 26, 2010 | 2:15 pm

     
  49. xxbaker says:

    Miss Philippines on ABC world news: http://chuvaness.livejournal.com/943209.html

    Aug 26, 2010 | 2:21 pm

     
  50. Marketman says:

    xxbaker, good link to video, thanks for that. Actually, I think it is one of the top 10 questions likely asked in a job interview (I used to interview new graduates for a previous employer of mine) but usually in the form of obstacle/overcoming it, rather than mistake/correction. Anyone who coached Ms. Philippines, and it seems she WAS coached by professionals, should have prepared her for similar types of questions. I am still of the opinion if this question was asked in the vernacular, and in the same language that perhaps she was thinking of an answer, her answer would have been more natural and reasonable… Judges ultimately weren’t looking for a “right” answer, they were looking for a sincere, logical, poised response.

    Aug 26, 2010 | 2:38 pm

     
  51. Ley says:

    I agree that Venus and her coach should have anticipated that question and should have had a ready answer for questions about her frustrations in life, challenges, her weaknesses, strengths and yes, mistakes committed. These are basic questions. With her impressive rise above obstacles she could have given an honest and sincere answer. Sayang kaayo. She looked so regal and ready to wear that Ms. U crown.

    I wonder what would have been the reaction of these men had Venus won the Ms. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-HePTmrV-og

    Aug 26, 2010 | 5:34 pm

     
  52. Marketman says:

    Ley, OMG, I couldn’t stop laughing watching that video. And yes, for their sakes, I wish she did win the crown… :) The video got 810,000 views in two days, amazing! :)

    Aug 26, 2010 | 5:41 pm

     
  53. Maxie says:

    Marketman, I usually read your blog because of the interesting anecdotes, info and recipes but I was disappointed with your “idiotic” comment on Ms. Raj’s answer. Could have, would have, should have was all we can say. If you would have been in her place I bet you could have answered it better because you are far more intelligent than her. Masyado namang exaggerated ang pagka-analyze ng education system natin-hindi lang magaling mag -english deteriorating na ang sistema. Ito na ba ang sukatan ng magandang edukasyon? I’ve met pinoy kids educated in British school at the Fort, true enough they could speak English like Le Salonga with matching accent but sadly they could not understand a simple Tagalog word like “tantsa”. Is this what we want as Filipinos….Buwan ng Wika pa naman.

    Aug 26, 2010 | 5:50 pm

     
  54. Marketman says:

    Maxie, precisely my point. If she were more comfortable in Filipino or Bicolano, she should have spoken in her native dialect or the national language, I am sure she would have given a far better answer. It really isn’t about intelligence I think, more grace under pressure… Maxie, several evaluations of the local educational system have been done, proficiency in maths, sciences, history, etc. all seem to be declining, not just English. Recent reports suggest most kids are even feeling Filipino proficiency exams. So I disagree with you if you think the local educational system is NOT deteriorating. It is on average.

    Aug 26, 2010 | 6:10 pm

     
  55. Marketman says:

    Okay, I just caught the local news this evening, and they aired an interview with Ms. Raj upon her arrival at the airport. She obviously is ebullient, natural and engaging. Not to mention extremely good looking. And that crown was probably hers to lose, and she did. But she herself admits that she was thinking in Tagalog “iniisip ko… pinaka or napaka” when she literally translated it to “major, major…” And well, she basically just choked. But that is EXACTLY why I raise the point above that if one thinks in Tagalog, they should simply get an interpreter so that they don’t have the added stress of having to translate their answer, and poorly at that. There is no shame in NOT being fluent in English. Articulate your thoughts in the language you think them in.

    But better yet, another beauty pageant contestant, Mrs. Philippines, arrived from the contest in the Ukraine or Croatia hours after Raj and was also interviewed, and there she didn’t win. But laudably, she apparently won Miss Intelligence, yahoo! But can it get more amusing or outrageous than this? She had to wear her sash, obviously awarded to her in Croatia? and it had written on it “MRS. INTELEGENCE” — OMG, I misspell words often too, but to not see this was incorrect on the sash of Mrs. Intelligence in a world tilt? Outrageous. :) In a funny way, of course. Only in the Philippines. Oops, and that includes Filipinos/Filipinas abroad too. :)

    Aug 26, 2010 | 8:12 pm

     
  56. Mari says:

    I agree with how MM says about Venus Raj’s answer…if she did pause and gave it a few seconds to think before answering, it might’ve come out better. I knew as soon as she blurted that answer out that she lost the crown. I am most sure that the judges are more into looking for a more poised, calm and a confident answer in a very regal way. In any case, I am still proud that she made it to the finals.

    MM, prices of fruits here in the US are also all so different from one grocery to the other. Like one grocery would have it for less than a dollar per pound, and then the other will have it for more than a dollar…then another grocery will be as close to one but produce won’t be as good as the other…farmer’s markets around town sort of double the price, only theirs is fresher than the groceries. I guess we just have to watch the prices more keenly…

    Aug 27, 2010 | 8:38 am

     
  57. corianderie says:

    Maxie & MM, I am passionate about education so I wish to comment. It’s off-topic, but that “major-major” episode strikes a chord. Venus did represent our country. Sana nag-Tagalog na lang siya.

    I will be the first to admit.. guilty kami diyan. My kids speak, read and write in English extremely well for their young ages. Ngunit napakabulok talagang magsalita sa Filipino. I’m not going to hypocritical about this. I love the Philippines, but I have encouraged them to excel in English so they can absorb written knowledge faster, and to let them learn Filipino for colloquial use.

    Reality is:
    (1) English is used as the formal medium of instruction here.
    (2) For business and corporate use, English is the accepted language.
    (3) Fictional, non-fictional and reference books, materials and TV programs in our native language that are of high quality and appeal are not available unlike what natives of Taiwan, Korea, Japan enjoy.
    (4) Our local educational system has low quality standards, and I’ve had first-hand experience as a parent in one of the best-regarded local schools. I was very disappointed. I looked at what these “progressive” and international schools have to offer and saw the difference. I then fully understood why Pinoy parents who choose to send their kids in those schools made the decision, even if it means sacrificing learning our language.

    Sad, but that’s life.

    Aug 27, 2010 | 10:21 am

     
  58. HD says:

    Nung ininterview si Venus kahapon, sabi nya, hindi naman nya napansin na naulit nya yung major. At nung tinanong siya kung ano sana ang dapat niyang sagot, sabi naman niya hindi naman niya babaguhin ang sense ng sagot niya. Ang ibig nyang sabihin ay, in her book, walang mga major(major) problems, mga pagsubok lang na binibigay ni God as part of his perfect plan. And she gives credit to the help and support of her family.

    Kung ako tatanungin noon…

    My biggest mistake MAY be not answering this question. As much as I want the crown for me and my country, I don’t think it is right to divulge such personal information on international television. Thank you.

    Tungkol naman doon sa ABC news clip na branding her as “Ms. Perfect” she did not say that she did not make any mistake, she even stressed on the word major. :)

    Well, malamang kung on the spot din wala din ako masasagot hehe.

    Aug 27, 2010 | 10:48 am

     
  59. joyce says:

    i agree that our future ms. universe candidates should be able to get the services of an interpreter. if other countries are allowed that, we should be allowed too. im sure many filipinos will even volunteer their services for free!

    Aug 27, 2010 | 12:01 pm

     
  60. neena says:

    Couldn’t the weak aspect of Ms. Raj- that is– her nervousness and her lack of perfect English- been checked earlier by the Binibining Pilipinas Inc headed by Ms. Araneta? Of course they could have! But, when everything else is said and done, the final moment of Q& A always brings the best and worst out of everyone. In Ms Philippines case, not only does she had to face the world on stage, but, to be suddenly asked about her personal life was, at that very moment – (maybe?) a little too much. She understood the question well, and I’m sure, there were ‘MAJOR’ problems in the past. But, in this particular situation, she chose not to share some not-too-pleasant part of her life because; she’s nervous (time stress)… AND, if she had mention a particular obstacle she’d had to go through (birth documents, ect.) … she would have offended many people, especially the BPInc. whom she had shown respect and appreciation in spite of everything.

    Aug 27, 2010 | 1:25 pm

     
  61. quiapo says:

    Here in Newcastle Australia, some of the local radio and tv stations announce the cheapest prices of gasoline for that day. Listeners ring in when they see a cheaper price from previously, with the location of the petrol station. This is useful towards the end of the week when tanks cars tend to be filled, particularly since payday is on thursdays. People here are paid weekly or fortnightly on Thursday afternoons.

    There is also a local good food guide in the local paper, with prices for common food products such as prawns, fruit and vegetables expected for the week and where to buy these.

    Aug 27, 2010 | 1:55 pm

     
  62. Risa says:

    Marketman, if you can provide the standard info on what brand, size and type of commodity you would like surveyed per grocery, then I think we are all set, haha.

    I have a good feeling about my neighborhood grocery Pioneer Centre that it will come up top 3 in the Mandaluyong Pasig area.

    Aug 27, 2010 | 7:26 pm

     
  63. Cathy says:

    I knew it was you I saw at S&R! :)

    I used to do our groceries at Rustan’s in Rockwell because convenient for us (proximity) but I got turned off when they changed the supermarket layout 3 or 4 yrs ago(?). I have since switched to Landmark.

    Aug 29, 2010 | 7:45 pm

     
  64. Grayzo says:

    Just weighing in on the supermarket price disparities… Like chinky, I’m also from the south and would patronize S&R, South Supermarket, Makati Supermarket, Save More, and Shopwise (depending on what was convenient.) A few years ago when I was at Shopwise, I saw our favorite Purefoods Honeycured Bacon at P530/kg (normally P470 when I shop.) I figured, wow, this is getting expensive now, so I bought only 1 kg (instead of my usual 2-3 per week… yes, we all love bacon at home.) Imagine my surprise the following week, I went to South Supermarket, and saw it still at P470/kg. In my shock, I went to all the other groceries as well, true enough, still ranging from P470-P484. And lastly to make sure I didn’t mis-read, I went back to Shopwise, and saw it was really P530. A P14 price difference I can stomach… a P60 difference is highway robbery. I still buy a lot of bacon, but have since removed Shopwise from my grocery rotation.

    Aug 30, 2010 | 8:37 am

     
  65. kikas_head says:

    A bit late, but we just returned from a weekend in Singapore and were STUNNED at the prices on imported grocery items there as compared to here. The prices were so much cheaper in Singapore (despite their reputation for high prices). What makes imported items so much more expensive here? We filled up on stone fruit and cheese while we were there, as well as bringing back 10 kilos of cherries for pasalubong (yes, I know it is weird to bring people Canadian cherries from Singapore).

    Shopwise has had some of the highest prices for me and I usually find the best at Unimart which is by far the best grocery in the metro for me; not just for prices but selection. Rustan’s we reserve for items that they specifically always carry (arugula, our favorite brand of patis, tillamook cheese, etc) and occasionally for meat. Same with S&R, we shop there namely for milk (despite the price increasing from Php179.95 to the current price of Php209.95 in six months time). We still buy 95% of our produce and meat at palenkes for freshness as much as price.

    Aug 31, 2010 | 1:35 pm

     
  66. kit says:

    true marketman! what an eye opener…

    Oct 21, 2010 | 11:02 am

     
  67. henroguy says:

    I just came upon this site while comparing prices of Philippine produce with those in Vietnam where I currently live (I have lived in most of Southeast Asia)

    I think nothing beats the discounted items at HI-TOP Quezon Ave. I would go there all the way from my house in LAS PINAS to stock up on IMPORTED sale items (which still have a few months before expiration). The prices of their chocolates are a little lower than other bigger chains. I tried the Hi Top in Araneta but it had less sale items.

    Off topic, but I noticed those who had expensive education or have lived overseas often act self-righteous and belittle their fellow Filipinos. It’s like their egos got bloated and they smother it onto other people without taking into account the whole situation.

    As for the Venus Raj case, I think it was not a matter of idiocity nor bad enlgish, but a matter of dishonesty and/or false pride. Everyone makes mistakes and it’s human nature not to admit it. If she gave an honest answer, she would’ve been really worthy of being Miss Uni

    Jan 27, 2011 | 3:59 pm

     
 

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