(NY TIMES) Joseph E. Stiglitz — Consider the case of milk. Greeks enjoy their fresh milk, produced locally and delivered quickly. But Dutch and other European milk producers would like to increase sales by having their milk, transported over long distances and far less fresh, appear to be just as fresh as the local product. In 2014 the troika forced Greece to drop the label “fresh” on its truly fresh milk and extend allowable shelf life. Now it is demanding the removal of the five-day shelf-life rule for pasteurized milk altogether. Under these conditions, large-scale producers believe they can trounce Greece’s small-scale producers.
In theory, Greek consumers would benefit from the lower prices, even if they suffered from lower quality. In practice, the new retail market is far from competitive, and early indications are that the lower prices were largely not passed on to consumers. My own research has long focused on the importance of information and how firms often try to take advantage of the lack of information. This is just another instance.