Monday, October 17, 2011

Maximum Retail Price

Have you ever wondered whether your grocer, mutton walla’ fisherwoman, liquor supplier et al are actually laughing all the way to the bank when you buy something from them? How often do you think that you have really got a good deal? Mind you I am referring to mundane boring things and not something unusual, something that comes without an MRP, like a car or a Rolex watch or, heaven forbid, a 3 BHK flat with 1 stilt parking with partial sea view, full cheque payment.

Before I start ranting, I confess that I often think that I am being gypped, or if not gypped, the seller is making a disproportionately large sum of money compared to the warm happy feeling you get when you have bought the product.

We use a fair amount of olive oil. Well, I think a fair amount, about 5 litres a year. This is in addition to Mustard Oil for Bengali food, Sesame Oil to add to Chinese food, Coconut Oil for Saraswat/`Amchi’ food, Hazelnut and Walnut Oil for salads, Ghee for the Mughalai Punjabi stuff and normal Groundnut Oil for the day to day cooking. Our tin of Olive Oil got over so were on the lookout to buy some more. Last week we had a look at Hypercity at Malad and did not see any olive oil around at a sensible price. We then went to Mumbai newest, glitziest mall Infinity II also at Malad. Boy was the mall impressive. It’s not fully open but it was really nice. Anyway, I digress.

This morning we went to the mighty exciting Crawford Market. I hasten to correct myself lest some of our MNS/Shiv Sena brethren stone the stonethrower - the Mahatma Jotiba Phule Mandai. Crawford Market was named after Arthur Crawford a fascinating character. He spoke fluent Marathi and was Bombay’s first Municipal Commissioner and Collector. When he took over as Commissioner the water supply was scanty, garbage was piling up and the mortality rate was high. Crawford cleaned the streets, fixed the drains and managed to lower the mortality rate by half over the next two years. However his plans greatly overshot the civic budget and was accused of financial mismanagement. He was prosecuted and returned to England. Mahatma Jotiba Phule was an important social reformer from Maharashtra. The name of Crawford Market was changed after a long struggle by the President of Mahatma Phule Smarak Samiti, Mukundraoji Bhujbal Patil.

We went into Empire Stores right at the main entrance and bought a 5 litre tin of Leonardo Extra Virgin Olive Oil. The olive oil is probably imported in large barrels and repackaged in India. The name of the importer is some Dalmia Continental Private Limited - a Delhi based company. The MRP [maximum retail price] printed on the tin – I say printed not stickered – was Rs 2,990/- This tin was sold to us at a price of Rs 1500/- a full 50% below the MRP. I immediately looked at the ‘best before’ date and noted that I had till August 2012 to consume the oil.

Why, oh why, is there a 50% discount? So many thoughts went thru my mind. Obviously Dalmia Continental Private Limited are making some money, obviously Empire Stores is making some money. If this was sold at Hypercity how much money would they have made? Is Rs 1500/- still too much money? Is the tin filled with Diesel? fake olive oil? used oil? Olive oil diluted with cheap Palmolein Oil? Some Delhi based con artist out to get us?

I have no answers, just questions and some degree of amazement at the huge price difference.

I hope I have got a good tin of oil.

Have a look at the photos.

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