There’s a crisis happening right now as we bowl up to the dairy counter at popular middle-class hangout Waitrose. They’ve run out of Reblochon.
A middle-aged middle-class woman is having a go at the store manager. “How am I supposed to serve Tartiflette to my guests tonight without Reblochon?” she demands. Store manager Dave Johnson, who is technically working-class despite running a Waitrose, tries to make amends. “Since we started listing it as an Essential, we’ve run out until our next delivery. Everyone’s making Tartiflette. But I could do you a discount on our Essentials fondue set and some Gruyere and you could have a fondue party instead…” The irate customer considers the proposal for a moment. “Well, fondue is still a retro-chic trend on the right side of ironic”, she sighs. “Alright, I’ll take the fondue set, but I want a disproportionately high discount. And an extra set of forks.”
This typical scene is indicative of the supermarket’s mission to ensure it’s customers won’t be left without such staple ingredients any longer. In his office, Johnson pours us an Essentials Organic Fairtrade Lemon Verbena and Blue Agave leaf tea. “We realised our clientele had grown more demanding after the Himalayan Pink Salt riots of 2016”, he explains. “During the clear-up operation our product development team visited the store. As they stood behind the police tape surrounding the exclusion zone, they reassured me through a megaphone that plans were already in place to introduce many more SKUs to the Essentials range to ensure no further stock outages.”
If one good thing has come out of the Salt Riots that shocked a nation and razed 4 supermarkets to the ground, it’s knowing that later in the year shoppers can expect to see a constant supply of lavender sugar, Fairtrade ras-al-hanout and Scotch Bonnet antipasti all year round at the local branch of their favourite supermarket.