Woolworths – formerly the fresh food people

asp 25 August 2007 85

On the 7th April 2007, a batch of Southcape Garlic Feta Cheese was on a shelf in Woolworths Lanyon, when the clock ticked midnight, signaling the day of it’s use by. So why then did I find several blocks of this cheese today, the 25th of August? It was at the front and the shelf was fully stocked. It wasn’t marked down, no marked as being past the use by.

Cheese won’t make you sick if it is even a month over. But more than 4 months!

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85 Responses to Woolworths – formerly the fresh food people
sepi sepi 11:27 am 31 Aug 07


I avoid woolworths like the plague (dickson woolies is so vile). Local IGAs are quite good around the inner north. The prices are slightly higher on many of the products (not all), but you don’t have to wait in long lines and you even get a smile from the checkout ladies.
If you want bargains Aldis is the cheapest by far, but I’m not sure of the ethics of shopping there yet.

Thumper Thumper 9:41 am 31 Aug 07

“Try and go a whole week without shopping at a Woolworths or Coles owned business… yes it can be done but it will be a major inconvenience and youll soon find yourself right back where you started.”

Give me a break sunshine. Can’t remember the last time I walked into a Coles or Woolies…

Major inconvenience? Ah, no. Not at all actually.

Mr Evil Mr Evil 9:31 am 31 Aug 07

For someone who no longer works in a supermarket, you sure do go out of your way to defend them.

Toolbeater Toolbeater 12:01 am 31 Aug 07

What I base making the statement that most lines come in boxes in quantities of 12 on is years of experience working in retail. Some products do indeed come in carton sizes of 24, but these are the exception. The only line I can ever recall coming in a box of 50 is the small 60-90gm potato chips, and perhaps chocolate bars. In fact you’ll be surprised how many come in cartons of 6.

1.25l Soft drink – 12, 2L Juices – 6, Cereal – 6-24, Washing powder – 6-12, Canned veg – 12-24, Health and Beauty items – 6-12, Block Cheese – 6-12, Shredded Cheese – 12-24, Yogurt 6-12… etc, etc..

I don’t know who you talked to but either, clearly they are as ignorant as you in regards to how Supermarkets work or you twisted what they said to suit your argument. In any case I, and I’m sure anyone else who has ever worked in a Supermarket, can assure you that 12 is easily the most common sized carton. And THAT makes sense. I’ll tell you why.

Supermarkets need to keep their shelves stocked, I’m sure you’ll agree. The number of facings a product receives is based on its average weekly sales. For example, this is why 2L Coke has 50-100 facings where as the stores generic cola will only have 4 or so. Stores aim to allow space to hold at least a week and a halves worth of stock on the shelves at any given time. This is the best way to ensure that product is available for the longest time possible on the better selling lines. Now, the majority of lines will only receive 2 facings as a minimum, and perishable lines like Yogurt will only receive one. Not necessarily because they are poor selling line but because shelf space is a limited commodity in a store. Shelves are only so deep. They can only hold so much stock.

How does this relate to carton size? Let’s say you are filling the shelf in the pasta sauce section. Due to the quantity of stocked SKUs each variety only has the space for 3 facings each. The shelf is deep enough to hold 5 units. 3 facings wide by 5 units deep is 15 jars maximum that the shelf can take of that particular variety. There are only 2 jars left, you fill your carton of 12 neatly on the shelf and the job is done.

Now lets assume we’re living in asp’s supermarket dreamland. Same situation, though this time we have a magical box of 24 jars of pasta sauce. The shelf holds a total of 15 remember, there’s 2 on the shelf already… now what happens is we have 7 left over jars.. Nearly half a box. What are we going to do with those 7 jars?? We could put them on the capping where they will stay, waiting for a staff member somewhere down the track to come along and work that stock onto the shelves. Perhaps we could stack the overstocks onto a pallet with the rest of the stock from these 24unit cartons that don’t fit We could then store that stock out the back, again to sit and wait for someone to fill it for a second time. Both of these options have negative side effects. Stock stored in a location anywhere other than the shelf is likely preventing the next carton from being ordered as you are showing a stock on hand of a quantity that is most likely above the minimum requirement to have the next carton ordered. These overstocks, as mentioned, now require attention from a staff member for a second time. This double handling of the stock isn’t free, its costing the store money to pay people to fill the same carton twice.

So, you see, it may appear that the larger the carton size the more cost efficient it is for the store yet it its quite the opposite. This brings me to my next point. Why are we arguing about carton size anyways? I used the example of 10,000 lines by 12 units to make 120,000 units of stock that need date checking. I did this to highlight just how big of a task it is to maintain and out-of-date free store. You seem to think its so easy to maintain so you counter argue that its actually 30,000 lines by 24 units?? 720,000 units of stock now need date checking. Way to support your argument. You clearly are a retard.

You ask why I’m so bent on defending the supermarkets? I ask you why your so determined to target them? They had some out of date cheese, whoopdy shit, who fucking cares. Classic David Vs Goliath, one man taking on the big evil money grabbing corporations. Really, you should get Today Tonight to do a story on you. You really are a community hero. In fact I’m going to nominate you for Australian of the Year.

No, I don’t work for a supermarket anymore, though I do have a thorough understanding of how they work. I actually shop in the Lanyon store as obviously do you. Plenty happens in stores that pisses me off as well but I’m forgiving, I get over it. Mainly because I understand the reasons why the shelves are raped last thing on a Sunday afternoon, I understand why the I have to queue with my 2 items behind a full trolley shopper at 10 at night, and I understand why there may be a packet of out of date cheese at the front of the shelf.

This is where you and I differ. You don’t understand how a supermarket works. You think you know the law and your rights as a consumer so when you discovered that cheese you thought ‘Ripper, I’ll make Woolworths out to be evil, and their staff incompetent by posting about it on the internet’ and to that I take offence. You may think that I suffer from a social disorder but I know that your an asshole, and that is much worse.

Your ‘friend’ that dropped the eggs. You stood there while he put them back on the shelf, yet you said and did nothing? Did you ask him not to? Did you take them to another staff member and ask for their disposal? I doubt that you did, yet your social conscience has you posting on the net about some out of date cheese? Your as guilty as he is. Naive tool? Believe me I’ve seen similar, if not worse, instances happen in my time in supermarkets; I just don’t make it my duty to tell the world.

I’d love to see your research that proves the ‘record profits’ vs. their out of code management practices. Perhaps you could request their shrinkage results and graph them against their profit for us? Surely its not possible that the increased profits isn’t a result of business expansion, technology advancements, better management practice and the like. You are the naive one.

Speaking of technology. You also mentioned RFID. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rfid . The technology for RFID is nothing new; many supermarkets in Europe and the US make use of this technology not just in stores but throughout their distribution process. The can even in theory be used to write your shopping list for you my monitoring what you use from your fridge! I remember hearing of shelving used in one overseas supermarket that had digital ticketing on their shelves that could update pricing instantly at the start of promotions and the like. These shelves could also monitor the weight of the stock placed on them for ordering purposes. In this regard there is plenty of supermarket specific technology that we will see in the future that will not only make shopping a more pleasurable experience, but also significantly reduce the overheads of the companies. However, the Australian supermarkets are more than a little backward in regards to the way they implement it. Though the change is a significant one you can rest assured the days of the barcode are numbered.

jemmy jemmy 11:03 pm 30 Aug 07

Any RFID tags I get will be going straight to the microwave. Well, maybe not the frozen deserts…

ant ant 8:27 pm 30 Aug 07

Toolbeater gets Dickhead of the Month award. It’s not hard to see why so many supermarkets are doing such a woeful job, if he exemplifies the type of person who works in them.

Toolbeater, we had valid points to make. And all you could do was dish out abuse. I think you just proved our (many) points.

And no, I didn’t wade through the entire rant, either. Just a sad, angry person with a shit job that he’s evidently very poor at.

asp asp 7:59 pm 30 Aug 07

One thing I would like to make clear. Except for a small minority of staff in the supermarkets like the one who dropped the eggs and tampered with food, I don’t blame the staff for these problems with keeping expired or old stock off the shelves. It’s the company that is squeezing every penny and putting quality and freshness last.

I have read that systems that us RF tags, like an advanced barcode, are being developed that not only speed up the checkouts, but also allow computers to monitor stock in the store are being developed. There like the existing RF tags for cattle, but are smaller and more versatile. Still a couple of years off, but that would be a great innovation and time saver.

caf caf 7:22 pm 30 Aug 07

Actually for anyone who lives between MacArthur/Wakefield and the lake the alternatives are closer than the Colesworth duopoly outlets.

asp asp 6:55 pm 30 Aug 07

“12 is hardly a random number.. most lines arrive at the stores in quantities of 12.”
What do you base that on. After talking to some people, hardly any product shipment come in boxes of under 24 or more each. And that makes sense. What supermarket orders in 12 of a product or a single box. None. It doesn’t make sense. It wouldn’t be cost effective.

Who are you toolbeater. No one not directly linked to a defends a supermarket that much. We may all put up with supermarket and learn to be tollerant with them. But you exhibit the signs of being either:
a) a Woolworth’s/Coles staff member
b) a person who suffers from Antisocial Personality Disorder

“If a staff member has told you they tamper with stock to make it go off then thats an issue with a particular individual.. sooner or later they will come unstuck and loose their job.”
Four years an he’s still there. He once dropped a pack of eggs and broke a couple. I was there at the time. He put it on the shelf again. You are very naive tool.

“Either way your mistaken. It would be safe to say that for the entire 10yrs that you’ve shopped at the store there as always been a small percentage of stock that has been on display yet past its used by. Its an unavoidable reality.”
True, my point however isn’t that they should stop having items that are past it on the shelf. That would be impossible. But in the past couple of years, the instances have increased. This coincides with record profits for Woolies and cost cuts over at Coles.

Toolbeater Toolbeater 6:09 pm 30 Aug 07

Nice comeback too by the way Mr Evil… very witty. Perhaps if you were louder about it people would respect and listen to you… tool.

Toolbeater Toolbeater 6:08 pm 30 Aug 07

I agree with pjp, if you don’t like you local major supermarket then feel free to shop elsewhere… you wont be missed. The only problem is that shopping at smaller business’ takes effort as they are further from home with shorter trading hours and much less range. Woolies and Coles have us all by the balls and the sooner you realise it and just make the most of it the better.

Try and go a whole week without shopping at a Woolworths or Coles owned business… yes it can be done but it will be a major inconvenience and youll soon find yourself right back where you started.

Mr Evil Mr Evil 4:36 pm 30 Aug 07

Toolbeater – what an apt name!

pjp pjp 4:18 pm 30 Aug 07

to show the big businesses we do matter try to buy every thing you can from smaller businesses. Like Farmers markets http://www.southsidefarmersmarke.com.au

Thumper Thumper 11:37 am 30 Aug 07

I’m sure supermarkets do try their best, indeed, my son works in one and I did as well, many, many years ago.

However, that rant is up there with CrazyChesters best…

VicePope VicePope 11:29 am 30 Aug 07

I probably get it and am inclined to agree with ToolBeater that the supermarkets try to do the right thing. It’s not as if it’s in their interest (especially the biggies where the person who runs the store doesn’t own it) to sell rotten, unhealthy food. Bad for the rep, as this blog is showing. They can ditch it and write it off with hardly a dent in the profit.

But they do make mistakes. Everyone with a mass function does. It’s why Centrelink and the Tax Office have (mostly) good complaint management systems. The problem (for an outsider) is not that Immigration makes errors, but that it has trouble correcting them. Supermarkets sometimes forget to turn stuff over properly or someone leaves something that should be chilled/frozen where it can thaw or warm up.

If you come across a dud product, tell someone. It’s the only way they find out. If they treat you with disrespect, fill out a complaint form and/or have a rant on the complaint page of the relevant supermarket website. Whatever you do, don’t rage at the teenagers and other low-level employees in the aisles or on the checkouts. They’re paid enough to do their work, but not enough to have abuse hurled at them. And it doesn’t work – all it does is provide a frisson of excitement and amusement for other staff and shoppers while making the perpetrator look ridiculous. Calm almost always works.

If you don’t get a result (and you almost always will), then I suggest the ACT Health authorities may take an interest.

Toolbeater Toolbeater 11:11 am 30 Aug 07

12 is hardly a random number.. most lines arrive at the stores in quantities of 12. Sure there is plenty of lines with more stock than that so 120,000+ products is probably an understatement.

If a staff member has told you they tamper with stock to make it go off then thats an issue with a particular individual.. sooner or later they will come unstuck and loose their job.

Toolbeater Toolbeater 11:04 am 30 Aug 07

Well maybe if you did read my post you’d have a better understanding of how stock past its use by could come to be on the shelf of any supermarket.

The reason you are posting is because you feel that you have been wronged, or perhaps that the staff just don’t care and you feel that its your duty to tell as many people as you can. Either way your mistaken. It would be safe to say that for the entire 10yrs that you’ve shopped at the store there as always been a small percentage of stock that has been on display yet past its used by. Its an unavoidable reality.

So as I suggested before, it is you who is the dickbrain for making such an issue of something so trivial.

asp asp 11:00 am 30 Aug 07

By the way toolbeater/F*ck wit,
“I’d like to see you date check the 10,000 lines that most Supermarkets carry, and that’s lines, not items. Multiply that by 12 units of each and you have 120,000+ items potentially going out of date.”
Get your facts straight. Woolworths has 30,000 prdct lines. And when you say most supermrkets, Woolies and Coles have 30,000. BiLo have more like10-15,000 and Aldi has 1000-5000 product lines.

“Multiply that by 12 units of each”
12. That is a f*cking randomn number. Where did you get 12 from. Theyhave around 30blocks of Camambert on the shelf at any one time alone. Larger blocks, they could have 50 or more. Where did you get 12 from?

“What you need to understand is that your anger will most likely be directed at the wrong person. Someone like you. Someone who is simply trying to do the best job they can.” At Lanyon, many of te staff responsible for the shelves are from my class in high school. Beleive me, they are not doing the best they can. Especially the guy who has on numerouse occassions stated he fiddled with goods so that they would leak or go off.

asp asp 10:42 am 30 Aug 07

Wow, and I though Ted Bundy was a nut job. We have a new contender… Toolbeater.

Didn’t read most of it, though this caght my eye:
“You are gutless. Approach the store manager if you take such offence to such a trivial issue. ”
That is the reason I am posting d*ckbrain. I have informed the store (the service desk and on two occassions, duty manager) of the pressence of goods that are siginifcantly past their use by and more rarely, best before. There continued failiure to keep these goods in check is why I am posting. I have shopped at Lanyon Woolies for about 10 years since it oppened. Only in th past 2 years have the problems with stock being past it become a noticable issue.

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