I love the discount corner at my local grocery store. Yours probably has one, too...usually hidden at the back of the store, you can find some shelves tucked into an out-of-the-way corner stocked with all kinds of things that have been discontinued, have damaged packaging or simply weren't selling, and they're typically marked way below their suggested retail price in order to get them sold.
On my last trip I scored big time! One-pound packages of imported pasta from Italy: 50 cents each. (MSRP: $4 each)
Here at Chez Brown we go through a lot of pasta. It's quick and easy, and, good mother that I am, I've made sure that everyone in the family is an accomplished water boiler. At 50 cents/pound, I couldn't resist. I bought 10 of them.
Would I have paid the manufacturer's suggested retail price of $4/pound? Not bloody likely.
I bought them because they were very attractively priced, the packaging (in this case) was in perfect condition, and the pasta suited my needs.
My supermarket in Keene, NH offers lots of different brands of pasta, the vast majority of them competitively priced, and when it failed to sell, the fancy-shmancy Pasta Italiano was banished to the dark and dingy discount corner.
Clearly, somebody believed that consumers would pay a premium for their pasta. Had it been the only brand of pasta available, or offered some special feature or rare ingredient, they probably would have been right. In this case it was essentially flour and eggs wrapped in bilingual packaging. Pasta is pasta in either language.
How many people are going to pay a premium for what, at the end of the day, is the same basic product that they can buy for significantly less?
As long as the pasta eventually moves through the check-out line and out the door, I suspect the supermarket considers it a win, although I doubt they'll be placing any more orders for that particular product. I wonder how the manufacturer feels about that? Definitely food for thought...
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