Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Cafeteria food

I rarely eat in my office cafeteria , but often observe what the others are being served. Of course on business trips and other location visits, I am often compelled to eat in the cafeteria. I have come to the conclusion that Cafeteria food sucks (In varying degrees) in all parts of the world. Also, they are quite pricey, considering that they have no capital expenditure (infrastructure is provided by the office), and lower operating expenditure.
Here are four of my points to investigate the economic reasons for the same. Please debate on the merits of my arguement, and suggest how this can be improved.

A. Cafeteria vending business is monopolistic as many of the offices have a single vendor. While the employees may have better options outside the office, often the cost of going out (In terms of time, weather conditions, etc... ) makes the employees decide in favor of the cafeteria. The monopolistic nature leads to lower quality at a higher price

B. The market for an office cafeteria vendor is captive. Since there is little opportunity to grow the focus is on profit maximisation.

C. The people who are in charge of managing the cafeteria vendor does not have an incentive to control the quality. On the contrary, the may have vested interest to side with the vendor in order to receive favors (best case) and a profit cut (extreme case)

D. Another type of economics work, in countries like India. While studying for my engineering degree I often had to visit factories. The food in the cafeteria, which are patronized by the labourers are excellent. Guess why! :-)