/ Rationing

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freeflyer 24 Mar 2020

I've just been reading the Wikipedia article on rationing, which I thought was really interesting as well as entertaining in parts - see the bit at the end about health effects.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rationing_in_the_United_Kingdom

Reason for looking was, I was thinking about so-called panic buying, which obviously does exist, but which may unfairly include people shopping for larger families, especially if they're buying for vulnerable parents etc as well. A few calculations made me realise how much they need for one or two weeks!

We are told not to "panic buy", and simultaneously to visit the shops as rarely as possible. Do you think we'll see rationing introduced in the near future? Seems to me it worked pretty well in WWII.

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oldie 24 Mar 2020
In reply to freeflyer:

While rationing would be a solution to avoid panic buying there would have to be a massive amount of admin etc around it....fixed amounts for each member of household, some sort of paper or digital coupon system. Would probably take masses of time to set up properly. Still open to fraud. Could be fairer than WW2 in that richer people couldn't just go to restaurants.

Perhaps naively I'm going with BJ's "there "will" be no shortages" (changed to "should" I notice after panic buying became apparent). We've not got big reserve. Just hope our approx 25 year old fridge freezer doesn't pack up or I'll be in big trouble, including from my wife who has wanted a new one for years,

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stp 24 Mar 2020
In reply to freeflyer:

tps://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rationing_in_the_United_Kingdom

> Reason for looking was, I was thinking about so-called panic buying, which obviously does exist, but which may unfairly include people shopping for larger families, especially if they're buying for vulnerable parents etc as well.

I heard this morning about families who visit the supermarket together and get one trolley each to maximize the amount of goods they can get. This was chastised as selfish by the reporter. But to me it's no different to a single person going to the shop and buying whatever they need. So rather unfair I thought.

> We are told not to "panic buy", and simultaneously to visit the shops as rarely as possible. Do you think we'll see rationing introduced in the near future? Seems to me it worked pretty well in WWII.

Interesting question. I went to the shops this morning. First supermarket now had an outside queuing system with limited number of people in the shop at one time - a one in, one out system. I didn't hang around. No point in queuing when they probably won't have what you want anyway.

The next supermarket actually had everything I wanted. First time in over a week, but also first time I went in the morning. But it was fairly empty anyway. But maybe things are getting better, at least temporarily.

The next hit is that the restaurants are all closed now, even McDonalds. This means an extra burden on food supplies. All the meals that were previously purchased in restaurants will now come from the supermarkets. I'm guessing that's quite a lot of meals. Think of all the people who work in cities and buy their lunch out for instance.

Theoretically that food could be diverted to supermarkets. The problem is that the packaging factories might not be able to cope with the extra demand.

I heard Boris saying that the food industry was producing 50% more food to cope with the crisis. But I can't help thinking that can at best be a very temporary measure. To me it suggests there will be shortfall later on. To actually produce 50% more food implies perhaps a year of pre-planning and also 50% more land and that's something we do not have.

So have to see how it goes but I wouldn't rule out rationing.

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wercat 24 Mar 2020
In reply to freeflyer:

I was thinking during Boris' address that visiting the shops once a week is quite unlikely as there seems to be a likelihood of some essentials being unavailable on a particular visit to a built up area.

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ian caton 24 Mar 2020
In reply to freeflyer:

Rationing in ww2 meant a lot of people got more than they were used to. 

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Stuart (aka brt) 24 Mar 2020
In reply to wercat:

> I was thinking during Boris' address that visiting the shops once a week is quite unlikely as there seems to be a likelihood of some essentials being unavailable on a particular visit to a built up area.

It'd be nice to think that Boris had a plan, along with the food suppliers and supermarkets, to ensure that only one visit will be necessary. (He might actually have said infrequent or limited visits rather than once a week, but once a week would surely be the 'on message' approach regarding stay at home). 

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Neil Williams 24 Mar 2020
In reply to freeflyer:

I think the key difference in World War 2 (for example) was that the system didn't have the capacity to provide for people purchasing their normal amount and had to reduce, particularly for certain items.  At present, while panic-buying is clearing shelves, the system *does* still have the capacity to provide normal amounts.

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flour 24 Mar 2020
In reply to freeflyer:

I think/hope it will calm down now.

It was quite quiet on our first trip out today after 14 days self isolation, we grabbed the last packet of Farfalle pasta on the shelves in our local Tesco.

Result!

Put it in the Foodbank collection. Ha

Post edited at 12:54
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freeflyer 24 Mar 2020
In reply to oldie:

> there would have to be a massive amount of admin etc around it....fixed amounts for each member of household, some sort of paper or digital coupon system. Would probably take masses of time to set up properly. Still open to fraud. Could be fairer than WW2 in that richer people couldn't just go to restaurants.

Could be a simple system based on Nectar and your average spend over the last 3 months, which you can appeal at CustomerServices. There is a slight issue as I don't have a Nectar card...

I bet there was a big debate about takeaways at Command HQ! I believe the restaurants were subject to restrictions also, but of course a different situation.

Wiltshire Farm Foods only delivering to existing customers. However as of yesterday our local butcher was taking meat veg and milk orders and organising the delivery; hopefully he's allowed to carry on.

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captain paranoia 24 Mar 2020
In reply to freeflyer:

> Could be a simple system based on Nectar and your average spend over the last 3 months

Two problems:

1) I don't have a nectar card either...

2) I am now eating all meals at home, instead of eating my main meal in the restaurant at work. Therefore, my food shopping requirement has increased by more than 200%

I guess this applies to many people. I pointed out that most people are not panic buying, just doing what they are told (staying at home, with their families, going to the shops infrequently), last Friday.

https://www.ukhillwalking.com/forums/off_belay/please_educate_people_to_stop_panic_buying-717233?v=1#x9153267

Post edited at 15:00
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girlymonkey 24 Mar 2020
In reply to freeflyer:

I tried doing a weekly shop this week. We are only a couple of days in so time will tell if I managed to get enough for a week. The added complication is that I did this in time for my Brother-in-law moving in with us, so the household grew by 50%! 

It was an expensive way to shop though. I can imagine doing a weekly shop to be a challenge on a low income. I normally go to the reduced section, get as much as I can that could work together in a meal from there and then see what else I need to add to it to complete the meal. If possible, I make enough of this to last for lunches the next day too. This doesn't work with a weekly shop!

Anyway, we will continue to do what we can to limit our supermarket trips. Sainsburys had almost everything on my list, so maybe it's already settling down a bit. I did have to buy some odd bread flour as they didn't have their usual own brand stuff, but actually the loaf made with it was really good so I might get it again!

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krikoman 24 Mar 2020
In reply to oldie:

> While rationing would be a solution to avoid panic buying there would have to be a massive amount of admin etc around it....fixed amounts for each member of household, s

Not really, the tills are all electronic, you have to scan stuff, it could simply be stated at the beginning of the shop, you are allowed two of everything. Time limit on the card usage and it's pretty much sorted.

Or for the big supermarkets make it compulsory to have a club card, and limit it that way.

They might need more bouncers / enforcers to prevent people saying "f*ck it" but there is at least a couple of options to limit what people can buy.

Edit: sorry once again, someone has already posted my thoughts.

Post edited at 15:12
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krikoman 24 Mar 2020
In reply to ian caton:

> Rationing in ww2 meant a lot of people got more than they were used to. 


Eh? You still had to buy it.

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marsbar 24 Mar 2020
In reply to krikoman:

As I understand it some tills are already set to only allow 2 of everything. 

The trouble is if people are shopping for family or neighbours they will end up making more trips and that's counterproductive.  

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dread-i 24 Mar 2020
In reply to stp:

>To actually produce 50% more food implies perhaps a year of pre-planning and also 50% more land and that's something we do not have.

I believe there are various mountains of food stuffs. From grain, to butter and cheese, to milk lakes etc. Didn't Sir Bob make a point about this during Live Aid? (The counter argument being that it we give free food to the starving, then we destroy the local markets in that country. Farmers cant sell their produce, so wont grow for next year.)

If these are physical surpluses that are sat in warehouses, it shouldn't be an issue. If it's a theoretical surplus, where we can produce X++, but pay the farmer to only produce X, then we'll have to wait until harvest time and beyond. The problem comes, if all the countries with a surplus, start to horde their surplus, and restrict exports. I don't think the UK has been self sufficient for decades.

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Deadeye 24 Mar 2020
In reply to stp:

I think they should limit the value per "shop" to £30.

I only need a nice Barolo mind.

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Ridge 24 Mar 2020
In reply to dread-i:

> I don't think the UK has been self sufficient for decades.

More like 200 years, IIRC the Napoleonic wars were the last time we approched self sufficiency, and that was out of wartime necessity.

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Ian W 24 Mar 2020
wercat 24 Mar 2020
In reply to Ian W:

and didn't it cause angst in Ambridge?

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oldie 24 Mar 2020
In reply to krikoman: and Freeflyer

> Not really, the tills are all electronic, you have to scan stuff, it could simply be stated at the beginning of the shop, you are allowed two of everything. Time limit on the card usage and it's pretty much sorted. Or for the big supermarkets make it compulsory to have a club card, and limit it that way. <

But surely it wouldn't be that simple and need a huge amount of setting up initially; lots of people buying for various size households with proved ratification for the number of kids etc. This would have to be coordinated between all small shops as well as supermarkets to prevent one person buying unfair share at multiple outlets....in fact some, ,possibly digital, equivalent of a coupon system for each individual dependent on age, pregnancy etc.

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oldie 24 Mar 2020
In reply to Ian W:

Didn't read the article as looked as if I had to sign up, but does it mean we won't have access to the EU food mountain in future emergencies when we leave?

Incidentally I seem to remember reading UK produces 60% of its food, if so and given we eat excess we might just manage with rationing, and solve the obesity problem. 

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freeflyer 24 Mar 2020
In reply to oldie:

If they were able to make it work 70 years ago, surely we should be able to get some thing going today.

Coupons were the mechanism then: "To buy most rationed items each person had to register at chosen shops, and was provided with a ration book containing coupons. The shopkeeper was provided with enough food for registered customers. Purchasers had to present ration books with them when shopping so that the coupon or coupons could be cancelled as these pertained to rationed items." [wikipedia].

Strangely it didn't seem to come up much in Dad's Army - Jonesy seemed to hand out stuff willy nilly. Of course there was also Private Walker

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Dax H 24 Mar 2020
In reply to freeflyer:

We have a tescos delivery booked for one night next week. It will be interesting to see what arrives. We only shop once a month (grab milk, bread and fresh veg local every week) and are really boring in that we have a set order that wee tweak slightly each month. We may be classed as panic buyers now and have our order restricted despite over 10 years of ordering basically the same stuff on the first week of the month from Tesco. 

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johncook 24 Mar 2020
In reply to girlymonkey:

It depends on what you call a reduced income. As an OAP on about £11000pa I can easily live well. I eat well (fresh veg, meat, fruit etc) and cook from scratch as it is the most nutritious way and cheapest way (and almost as quick as heating a processed meal!) Out of the income I pay council rent for a 1 bedroom bungalow at approx £80 per week!,  council tax £50 per month. I run a car. I go on holiday for about 6 weeks a year. I like a pint.

I manage to shop once per week by planning and shopping with a list. I make a conscious effort to avoid waste food (any waste). Sometimes that involves 'fridge clear out stir fry'! People need to start planning and budgeting around their income and living within their means. It is possible. I  see so much waste, so much excessive consumerism. Too many people are having to work hard at jobs they dislike to support their profligate lifestyle. Society needs a rethink. If you can't afford it don't buy it. Have a savings reserve (I do,) it doesn't have to be huge, enough to survive 6 months if the worst came to the worst (like now) I maintain this reserve and spend the rest enjoying life to the full. (My kids already know that all that will be left is enough to bury me [one has suggested fly tipping me but I told him I would prefer him to be legal and use a council skip!], my books and my climbing gear! They are happy with that!)

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girlymonkey 24 Mar 2020
In reply to johncook:

I live very cheaply normally, and the ability to use reduced sections makes that possible. Maybe I just need to learn the art of cheap weekly shopping, but because I was buying for a week, nothing had reduced stickers on it. I would say the stuff I bought is not unusual stuff for us to eat, but it's normally more ad hoc as to what we have when, or the changes depending on the reduced section.

Absolutely no food waste here, and that is a worry with the weekly shop that I might have things that do waste. We regularly eat the fridge to pretty much empty (just the various half used jars of jam, chutney etc still in it) before buying more. We are efficient with our food use. Any excess from a meal gets boxed up and kept for the next day etc. I abhor food waste!

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Ian W 24 Mar 2020
In reply to oldie:

> Didn't read the article as looked as if I had to sign up, but does it mean we won't have access to the EU food mountain in future emergencies when we leave?

> Incidentally I seem to remember reading UK produces 60% of its food, if so and given we eat excess we might just manage with rationing, and solve the obesity problem. 


No signing up necessary - well, I didn't have to but then again, I just googled it.

We wont have access to the food mountain because it doesnt really exist anymore. Thats the thrust of the article.

regarding the 60% point, thats a very simplistic way of viewing it, and ignores the fact that we produce excess amounts of some foodstuffs and very little of others - thats where international trade comes in.  If trade bexomes more difficult for whatever reason, than we will have less income because we cant sell some of the excess, and increased costs as we will have to pay more for that which we have to import (exchange rates and all that).

Post edited at 23:47
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oldie 25 Mar 2020
In reply to Ian W:

Thanks for the brief summary. I realized the 60% (if correct) was very simplistic. Presumably if we ever had to feed ourselves then ideally the government would share/ration out food based on nutritive value above all...probably pretty boring but also possibly healthier for some of us than our present diet.  

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Ian W 25 Mar 2020
In reply to oldie:

> Thanks for the brief summary. I realized the 60% (if correct) was very simplistic. Presumably if we ever had to feed ourselves then ideally the government would share/ration out food based on nutritive value above all...probably pretty boring but also possibly healthier for some of us than our present diet.  

Well Maccy D's has closed; has to be a positive!

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stp 31 Mar 2020
In reply to freeflyer:

I realised this morning that rationing is already here. But it's not the formal kind of rationing with a ration book etc..

Yesterday I went out to get shopping late morning. Visited 4 supermarkets and came back empty handed. So today I went out at 8 'o'clock and managed to get pretty much everything I need, even including some frozen foods.

So I've now learned to get up early to go shopping. But I'm sure this will change as people tend to learn very fast. Maybe queues will start forming before the stores are open. Then maybe people will be camping out overnight, the way they do in the post-xmas sales. Or more likely there'll be some intervention before then.

So this 'free market' rationing is working on a first come, first served basis. Instead of a ration book you have your place in the queue. If you're too far down you won't get fed.

I also noticed there were no queues at the more expensive supermarkets. So while, I don't think, prices are going up yet there is a subtle force pushing people to the pricier options.

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krikoman 17:21 Wed
In reply to oldie:

> and Freeflyer

> But surely it wouldn't be that simple and need a huge amount of setting up initially; l

Not really the tills don't know the price, it comes from the shops computer, they can deal with buy one get one free, it's all done in software and is instantaneous across the shop.

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oldie 19:47 Wed
In reply to krikoman:

Obviously rationing is possible but I still think it would need some time to set up (I don't know how long it took before coupons came out in WW2). For instance I often pay in cash so there is no record of what I buy. I'd have to be linked to the number of people in my household with children having different needs, and it would have to be coordinated between all the shops I use. An individual store can restrict me to a certain number of items but then I could get extras in an unconnected supermarket or a cornershop.

I may be missing the point but I can't see how it would be fairly set up that quickly. Luckily it appears to be unnecessary for most, though there is the ridiculous situation on the TV where Tesco can't deliver more items than for a single person to an entire care home due to computer set up....hopefully easily remedied.

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Dax H 21:08 Wed
In reply to freeflyer:

I thought I would drop in and report on yesterday's Tesco delivery. The Mrs had to re do it because they only allow 80 items. That sounds a lot but not for a full month when it includes, dog, cat and rabbit food plus cleaning products. 

Despite allowing substitutions on just about everything only 60 items arrived. The main things that were missing was various dog and cat food and tins of beans and sausages. 

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freeflyer 20:22 Thu
In reply to Dax H:

I'm struggling with the weekly shop too. 5 days is the best I've managed so far, plus having to visit a couple of places to get everything. 

Some of the oldies in my social media groups are doing pretty well though; they've sussed out the local independent shops, nearly all of which are taking orders and doing deliveries much better than the big guys. For example the local butcher is take meat veg and milk orders, popping across the road to the veg shop, then delivering the result!

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jkarran 20:37 Thu
In reply to freeflyer:

I don't think we'll see it unless the global food supply chain is disrupted. That sounds far fetched sat supping a beer on my comfy sofa but it won't need much of a disruption in planting harvest or processing with nations turned inward and traditionally strong currencies in the toilet to see export restrictions on certain products rapidly leading to serious shortages. Traditional aid responses may be impossible. The responses to shortage and price volatility will determine whether 2021 becomes a year of widespread chaotic famine and revolution or economic healing.

Plant food. It really could go either way.

Jk

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Jenny C 20:48 Thu
In reply to freeflyer:

> I'm struggling with the weekly shop too. 5 days is the best I've managed so far, plus having to visit a couple of places to get everything. 

>..... the local independent shops, nearly all of which are taking orders and doing deliveries much better than the big guys. For example the local butcher is take meat veg and milk orders, popping across the road to the veg shop, then delivering the result!

Yes some of the local independents are doing an amazing job. 

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krikoman 21:09 Thu
In reply to oldie:

> I may be missing the point but I can't see how it would be fairly set up that quickly. Luckily it appears to be unnecessary for most, though there is the ridiculous situation on the TV where Tesco can't deliver more items than for a single person to an entire care home due to computer set up....hopefully easily remedied.

I wasn't really talking about proper rationing, simply a means to stop, panic / hoarding type buying.

Though, and I don't know if the supermarkets would ever go this way, if you had to have a loyalty card to allow shopping they could limit what you bought that way, again though this wouldn't prevent people going from one shop to any other, it would slow down the initial surges, which is what the supermarkets have been trying to do.

Our local shops are quite now and they seem to have most things in stock.

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oldie 10:44 Fri
In reply to krikoman:

 >Our local shops are quite now and they seem to have most things in stock. <

Same here. SW London. All three local stores have queues with separation interval and one in, one out policy. Pretty good stocks (even large packs of toilet rolls) and queuing  seems quite quick probably due to people limiting their number  of visits. Plus for me is I'm often waved to the front of any queue together with mums with pushchairs. ;)

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