Also in this article:
1. "Don’t buy anything with more than five ingredients (too processed), with ingredients you can’t pronounce (too processed), with anything artificial (tastes bad), with a cartoon on it (direct marketing to children), or with a health claim (misleading)," says Nestle.
3. Dig and reach for the freshest produce. Older merchandise gets pushed to the front of the bin and spread across the top to encourage customers to take it first.
4. This isn’t a social service agency. "The purpose of grocery stores is to get you to buy more food, not less," says Marion Nestle, author of What to Eat (North Point Press). Only 14% of consumers overall stick to just the items on their shopping list.
5. Very few people really like the "loyalty card" program, and it’s expensive for us to run.
6. Attention, shoppers: Don’t start your shopping just as we’re closing. We just want to leave. It’s been a long day.
7. Watch out for gimmicks. They are intended to get you into a store more frequently and to keep you away from competitors.
8. The person who supervises it all has a tough job; they’re just a big babysitter.
9. Thanksgiving is our least favorite holiday.
10. Bring back your recyclable cans and bottles, but please rinse them out first. Leaving soda inside is unsanitary and we find it disgusting.
11. Signs of a store in trouble: Stocking fewer perishable items, storing non-perishables in refrigerated cases to make them look full, and "dummying up" shelves with empty boxes. If we were offering the best prices and highest quality, wouldn’t there be more people shopping here?
12. I’m not getting rich here. After-tax net profit for the grocery industry is less than 2 percent, and by the end of 2013, the Food Marketing Institute, an industry group, predicts annual average wages will be just $18,000.
13. If you get in the 10 items or less line with 25 items, don’t be surprised if you are asked to leave. If you have 12 items, not many people will care.
14. Watch those shopping-cart handles. They’re covered in bacteria, says food-safety consultant Jeff Nelken. Use a sanitary wipe if the store provides them. Finicky shoppers can even patronize supermarkets that send their carts through a cart wash.
15. Skip the center aisles. That’s where you’ll find the junk food, like sodas and snack foods.
16. Check sizes. “Manufacturers are constantly trying to repackage things to make them sound like a better deal,” says David Livingston, a supermarket industry consultant. “Some new peanut butter containers may look the same, but look closely and you’ll see they actually have less peanut butter inside. Ninety-five percent of customers don’t watch this kind of stuff.”