LONDON, AUG 16: Martin A. used to pop into his local 24/7, two doors down from his office, to pick up a chicken sandwich for lunch. Every day at 1 pm, like clockwork. It used to be as mechanical as punching into work at 9 am, or the mandatory beer before taking the 6.16 home. For the last one year, he has been noticing the shelves fill up with more varieties than he could care for. "I now have to choose between free range chicken or fair trade bacon, between gluten free bread and brown bread and wholewheat bread, between wanting avocado or cucumber or sun dried tomatoes. It is driving me crazy! Just give me a damn sandwich!," Martin said, annoyed with what he calls the tyranny of choice.
Martin's predicament is mirrored in hundreds of shoppers who are torn between just getting down with buying the groceries and being conscious consumers. A new study commissioned by ANW, the popular chain of supermarkets, has found that 47% of shoppers interviewed said that a trip to the supermarket was stressful, owing not just to the raising costs, but also the targeted adverts that forced that to pay attention to what they were buying. The study, conducted by health watch services, found that the country of origin that was printed on the packaging made people think of the foodmiles they were consuming. Shoppers who considered themselves conscious buyers spent more time reading the labels and looking for local produce than others who were looking for a cheaper buy, the study showed.
The study also found that there was an increase in the average time a shopper took to finish buying the groceries. Where buying a week's supply would previously take an average 24.6 minutes, shoppers now took 32.8 minutes to buy food, most attributing this additional time to reading the labels and choosing between the various breads and vegetables. "Going Green is stressing out people," the study said, adding that while most consumers appreciated the wide variety they now had access to, it was also exhausting, especially at the end of a work week, to have to make so many choices together. "Thanks to newer market practices and easy flow of goods between countries, there is a lot more to choose from on the supermarket shelves. But is something non-organic from a neighbouring county better than organic from halfway across the world? Having to make such and similar choices is leading to increased stress levels, with some consumers showing signs of developing complete apathy towards conscious consumption, even as others go to extra lengths to buy local," the study quoted.