Warren Buffet’s Destructive Sweet Tooth

There is an old saying that states, money makes the world go round, but according to super financial mogul Warren Buffet, who has an unapologetic junk food and Coca-Cola habit, it is sugary sweet treats that truly bring people joy. But I wonder if his tune would change if he was poor and forced to subsist on the bad food his company, Berkshire Hathaway, invested millions in.

In an interview recently published in Business Insider, Buffet was quoted saying “I don’t see smiles on the faces of the people at Whole Foods.” But is the true motivation of the discontent of customers in Whole Foods markets the reason why he and Berkshire Hathaway have no desire in investing in the blossoming health food trend market? Or are there bigger financial concerns at play? My feeling is that they are of a financial focus and not a focus centered on content.

For a man whose sole purpose is accumulating wealth and keeping his stockholders happy, it seems highly unlikely that the happiness of consumers is really the motivating factor to avoid heavily investing into the health food market. After all, the health food market and the quality of newly developed products, like Trader Joe’s soyrizo, are absolutely delicious. Today, anyone with access to the Internet can find a range of delicious recipes made from healthy ingredients. So if Buffet sees discontent on the faces of Whole Foods shoppers, it is more likely from the sticker shock associated with the high prices of food and not from the quality or taste.

There is no debating that Buffet is a financial genius. With that being said, the reason for his refusal to cross over into the health food market is simply because of his customer base. Whole Foods is a niche market that is frequented by a small part of the upper-middle and upper class. It isn’t where all of them do 100 percent of their grocery shopping. So at best you have a small segment of the population that does anywhere from half to the bulk of their shopping there. That doesn’t bode well for a company like Berkshire Hathaway and their multi millionaire CEO, Warren Buffet. These are companies that need large and consistent customers to make their investments profitable.

On the other hand, you have strings of fast food chains, snack food companies, discount grocery stores, bakery outlets, Dollar Tree and 99 Cent-Only stores that have a mass market appeal and an ever growing customer base. Stores like these are on the rise. They have become frequented by everyone from the working poor, the working class, the middle class, the upper middle class and even the money conscious rich.

In times of inflated costs of living and instability in the American financial market, families are looking to get the most for their money, especially as the dollar does not seem to stretch half as far as it did 15 years ago.

America has also seen the rise of households where both parents work to make ends meet. This necessitates dinners made from fast food, both delivered and ready to bake frozen dinners. In households where both parents work, you are bound to have an inherent rise of latch key kids. I was a latch key kid myself, who was responsible for cooking dinner for my younger brother and I. I can speak from experience when I say that latch key kids indulge in a diet of junk food and soda.

Warren Buffet knows this, and that is why his statement about health food breeding unhappiness is garbage. The real reason that he invests in bad food is because he knows that he will get richer.  Having a customer base of 90 percent that buy slightly cheaper junk food is better than having a customer base of 10 percent that may pay slightly higher prices, but do so inconsistently. Like all billionaires, the only smile that Warren Buffet is concerned with, is the one that crosses his face when he looks at his bank statements.

 

Robert Decker Jude is a third-year literary journalism major. He can be reached at redecker@uci.edu.