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Man, disguised as dog, bites man

March 22, 2012

Svenska Dagbladet (The Swedish Daily) reports that the food store chain Ica didn’t actually create a new series of budget product. The store brand “Ica Basic” is exactly the same as notorious cheap brand Euroshopper, only repackaged.

As if it were news that most food brands are actually the same stuff with a different label… Typical “dog bites man”.

But wait! The devil is in the details and the details are very interesting. Very interesting indeed.

The article is basically a repeat of the complaints from Konsumentföreningen Stockholm (Consumer’s Association Stockholm) and its representative Minna Hellman. Ica is trying to fool its customers and is toeing the line of what’s legal, or so she claims. They just want to get rid of the negative associations the Euroshopper brand carries, and as soon as the new brand has established a more positive reputations, they will increase the price. Ok, that last statement is not attributed to Hellman, but to an unspecified source. But I’m willing to bet that it originates either with Hellman speaking off the record, or with a colleague of hers. Particularly as it’s quoted right between two attributed Hellman quotes, the second of which is hilarious: “I don’t think anybody in a decent economic situation will buy this.”

Um, no. People who can afford it tend not to buy the cheapest food available, because cheap food usually doesn’t taste all that good. Any more men bitten by dogs that you feel we have to know about?

And then at the end, in a feeble nod to journalistic fairness, Ica representative Sara Hjelm gets to say that Ica did too inform the general public of the fact that “Ica Basic” is based upon Euroshopper.

What the article does not tell you is that Konsumentföreningen Stockholm is not an independent consumer’s association, as might be assumed from the name. Konsumentföreningen Stockholm is partial owner of the Swedish Co-operative Union. And the Swedish Co-operative Union owns and operates the retail chain Coop, a main competitor of Ica. All this I didn’t find out until I checked Wikipedia.

Shame on you, Svenska Dagbladet!

(The various men and dogs in this blog post are, of course, referring to the classic journalism adage: Dog bites man – not news. Man bites dog – news.)

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