Consumer Demand Determines Available Products – Including Food

By Dr Ernst
April 12, 2017

This is capitalism 101 – supply and demand.

Basically, when people who vote with their dollars decide to buy, OR NOT BUY, a product that is available to them, businesses adjust their supply of the product to fit the demand. They buy less of something their customers are not buying. And they buy more of what their customers are buying. This leads to obvious downstream effects, such as the rise and fall of entire industries and everything that goes along with that.

Easy example: As the automobile industry took off, innovating as it went, manufacturers made more cars and the increase in supply resulted in lower prices–but in the early days of the auto industry, demand just kept going up and up and up. As a result, boutique automakers sold their businesses or grew them, many of which are the globe-spanning behemoth companies we recognize today: Ford, General Motors and Chrysler.

But what do you think happened to the horse-drawn carriage industry? It shrunk as the auto industry grew. It still exists, but it’s exponentially smaller than it used to be. In both cases, it is consumer demand that created the economic conditions in which both of these industries grew or shrank. In a nutshell – people wanted cars, not horse-drawn carriages. The industries responded accordingly.

Nothing could be more empowering.

But, it also puts the responsibility square on the shoulders of the people. We can’t rightly blame McDonalds for having a business that has merely been responding to consumer demand. We can’t rightly blame Tyson Chicken for doing what any good business does – meet the demands of its customers (for cheap chicken in this case) while maximizing profits (by farm-raising chickens in cramped, filthy enclosures, genetically modifying them to have enormous breasts, thighs, etc. and pumping them full of antibiotics to keep them alive in these grotesque conditions–in this case). As disgusting as it is, who is to blame?


Rather than shaking our fists at these companies, we simply choose not to give them our money, and watch what happens. It’s fascinating. Look at the photo on the right. McDonald’s issued a survey to determine how to supply potential customers what they want. Look at the second item on the list! It’s meat without hormones and antibiotics.

We’re in the midst of a revolution.

Some of the most popular chains from the last decade (the third-generation fast food restaurants, I like to call them) like Panera Bread and Chipotle will not serve GMO, antibiotic-raised, hormone-fed meat. And guess who’s next?

KFC, the world’s largest chicken-centric fast food restaurant, has announced that it will phase out chicken raised on antibiotics from its restaurants by the end of 2018.

This is because we are demanding it. It took “nearly a year of intense pressure from advocacy groups” to get KFC to enact this policy. But I don’t really believe it was advocacy groups at all. Advocacy groups are ignored unless they are backed up by millions of people with the same views. I believe it was falling sales and consumers surveys similar to the McDonalds one above.

Now listen. You’re now possibly thinking: Dr. Ernst… are you saying it’s ok to eat fast food? 

No! No… no… no… no… no… NO! There are so many more problems with fast “food” beyond antibiotics and hormones in the meat.

But I’m excited about all of this. For two reasons:

  1. It’s proof and encouragement that we do have the power to change society. We just need to be conscious of what we buy and how we live our lives.
  2. Developments like this change entire industries – Like the auto | horse-drawn carriage industry example above, big decisions like the one from KFC has the power to change the industry. Imagine how much money Tyson Chicken will make by selling antibiotic-free chicken to the nearly 19,000 KFC restaurants in the world. This massive company (or some other one) will phase out raising chickens with antibiotics and phase in raising them without antibiotics. And that makes antibiotic-free chicken cheaper–for all of us.

So what are you going to do about it? Just keep making healthy purchasing decisions. The longer and more consistently we do that as a group of people, the quicker these large-scale changes take place. Happy shopping everybody.



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