The power of concerted action

The agreement between the Athens-Piraeus bakers’ cooperative and a milk company to sell fresh milk for 89 cents a liter shows that with hard work, and despite cartels and other forms of collusion, the market actually functions in Greece. Small and medium-sized outlets seek the best prices so as to maximize their sales. At the same time, consumers benefit, since even the smallest store can choose milk at the price they want. This move by the cooperative shows that small and medium-sized businesses and consumers can respond to corrupt attempts to manipulate the market. They can beat the cartels by using their greatest weapon – namely choosing to buy products according to their own interests. This is the power of the market. For small businesses to handle the huge competition from the large supermarket chains, they can join forces through their collective organizations to forge agreements that benefit them and, in the long run, also benefit consumers. This could happen in other sectors that are plagued by oligopolies. Individual businesses acting alone cannot obtain deep discounts so as to boost their turnover and increase their profit. By acting together, however, they can. So, instead of complaining about the new market conditions, small and medium-sized businesses can do something about them. The bakers of Athens and Piraeus have shown the way, a path there is every indication that they will continue to pursue in relation to other products. The rest should pay attention.