Thursday, March 17, 2011

Green Beans: An Allegory

I talk a little about We are the Monsters at Indie Books Blog today.

But this blog post is a story about perceived value versus actual value...

I have a friend who worked for a local family farm on Fridays. (she has a regular, full-time salaried position at a local church, and Friday is her day off.) She helped prepare for the Farmer's Market on Saturday.

During green bean season, when beans were plentiful, the local farmers charge $4 a pound for their locally-raised goods. The grocery stores charge 99 cents.

My friend told me all the local farmers throw away pounds and pounds of green beans, but they won't lower their prices. Why? Because people should want to pay $4 for the local food. They should pay that much because it's the "right thing to do."

If only economics really worked that way.

People will pay what they pay. I'll write more about this next week, but for now...

Have a great St. Patrick's Day. If you go to a pub/bar/drinking establishment, bring your own food dye. The barman might charge extra for green beer.

;)

12 comments:

Tony said...

That's interesting. My local farmer's market is pretty small, but I they have a pretty good selection anyway, and a number of different farmers show up.

The cool thing is there's a bit of competition. In other words, they don't price fix. Some charge more for their green beans if they are "organic." Others are cheaper.

I guess it also depends on the size of the farm.

Everett Powers said...

I love green beans! We were on a diet recently (lost 40 lbs.) and ate gobs of them. Never got old. I can get them at the local farmers market for $2/lb. Organic, too. I would NEVER pay $4. Just like I would never pay $12 for an ebook.

Aaron Polson said...

Tony - Organic does tend to ratchet up the price...

Everett - Yes sir, you nailed my allegory right between the eyes.

Katey said...

This is absolutely true. It always reminds me of that scene in The Grapes of Wrath where the starving people are watching them dump tons of corn or wheat or whatever it is into the river or something.

My husband--okay, I've probably mentioned that he was a pricing consultant for the last 10 years. (He's just changed to mergers and acquisitions, whatever the hell that is.) So our conversations over long dinners and bottles of wine end up being about this stuff. And it's absolutely true that dropping the price too much devalues your product in the consumer's mind. He's told me about some insane experiments people have done with consumer behavior... we are so, so easily led.

It's a fine line between getting them to try something new and getting a, "What is this cheap shit?" reaction. So true.

Natalie L. Sin said...

Do they make green coffee? ; )

Aaron Polson said...

Katey - We are sheep. ;) Baa...baa...baa...

Natalie - I'm sure you can (food coloring works wonders).

Ricky Bush said...

Yeah, my daughter and hubby have decided to join a co-op to buy organically grown food from Dallas area farmers. Seems it's the 'hip' thing to do nowadays in the upscale 'hoods. Told her that it was far from a new concept. The hippies got it going back in the day...but didn't pay out the wazoo.

Danielle Ferries said...

Very interesting. Our local farmer’s market swings both ways – some prices are insanely low while other prices are well above the supermarkets.

Cate Gardner said...

Nice little interview, Aaron. I hope it picks up a few sales for you.

I'll admit I'd pay the higher price for quality green beans (if we had a farmer's market) rather than the crap I get in the supermarket, which doesn't help in the 99c cause at all. Although, if the supermarket sold decent veg at a cheaper price then I'd ignore the farmer's market beans. Which may help the 99c cause. I think.

Michael Stone said...

Like Cate said, word for word, Not all green beans are the same.

Just because I don't have an e-reader doesn't mean I can't have an opinion on green beans. :)

Aaron Polson said...

Ricky - We have some co-op options locally, and they aren't too expensive. Definitely the hip thing to do, though.

Danielle - Makes you wonder, doesn't it?

Cate - When the beans are in season, they are all great. ;)

Michael - Ha! Not all beans are the same, are they?

Milo James Fowler said...

I'd be all right with paying $4 for primo beans; but if I could get the same quality for 99 cents... =]