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Hey, Target, What's With Selling So Much Expired and Nearly Expired Food? Ick.

Oct 14, 2012   [permalink]

Is this now Target's business model?

The nearest grocery store to us is a super Target. While it has a lot of what we're looking for, we still have to make runs to the other stores for certain things. (Side note: Sorry, just because you quit carrying my favorite brands doesn't mean I'll switch to the limited choices of the other brands. Tried 'em; don't like 'em.) So, because we're at the other stores sometimes anyway, I've noticed that Target does something Safeway, the local Kroger chain, and Whole Foods does not:

Target sells a lot of food that's either almost expired or in fact is expired.

On our last shopping run, we ended up with two items past due: some muffins that were three days past the expiration date, and a can of corn that was a month past. Man, how old was that can of corn? New ones have an expiration date some number of years in the future.

This isn't an isolated incident. I've noticed it so often that we've quit buying certain things there, like cheese, because it's so often been expired. Nevermind even the date, I've too often seen moldy cheese sitting on the shelf. Ewww.

Yeah, so, I know, I should really stop shopping there, or check the expiration date of every single dang item I pick up there. But that's like, you know, a real hassle. It's much closer, and sometimes we forget to check something. Being our most convenient store, I suppose we sometimes delude ourselves the stuff has a good long life left like it should since it's a national store, and we don't want to look at everything. Nor should I have to do that. It wastes my time and energy.

An occasional oops I can understand. This is chronic.

I've now come to suspect that it's actually Target's deliberate policy to buy near-end-of-life products. As in, part of their business model.

Thinking about it, it would probably increase their profits by a ton. (Cough: to my detriment.) They could go to their wholesalers and say, pssst, hey, I know you got some stuff that you're throwing out. I'll take it off your hands real cheap, and sell it to my unsuspecting dimwits of customers. They'll never know! And we both make gobs of money! Brilliant!

Except for us customers, who lose. And may get sick. Or, who knows, die. Not to mention the waste of having less longevity and reduced taste. (Love their stale bread, yum.) I either lose money tossing it out, or have to waste my time returning it. A lose-lose for me.

It's a shame, because it's close, and saves gas, time (+10 min each way), and so on.

I mentioned the frequency of the problem to the guy at the returns desk. He blamed it on the vendors. Well, I'm paying Target, so I blame Target. It's not my concern that you foisted work off on the vendors who don't do it. If the vendors are dropping the ball because Target wants to save money on labor and not check, that's not my problem. I have no arrangement with each vendor; Target does. So no, Target, you don't escape the responsibility by blaming someone else. Your store, your name, your responsibility.

It's not like they're cheaper. They were when they opened, but now they're not. (In one case, they jumped up the price on our favorite yogurt 50% overnight, from like $3.39 to $4.99. The other stores are still in the $3-4 range, so that's a no-brainer. It's not expired / nearly expired at the other stores, either.)

So, we shop at Target less often, we avoid certain types of food that have been the worst offenders, and we try to check more often (what a nuisance).

And, on a day when it's particularly ticked me off after waiting in line to return stuff, I blog about it, in the hopes of saving others the waste and frustration.

Bad Target! Bad business model!

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